I Know the Real Reason Why Palin Resigned!

On June 29th, Runner's World published its August issue with the article, "I'm a Runner: Sarah Palin," The article has an extensive interview with the ex-VP candidate about running!

Four days, later, Palin hastily announced her resignation as Governor of Alaska.

No one seems to know exactly why she is resigning. I listened to her speech and couldn't figure it out. I've read everything from she's preparing for a 2012 Presidential run to she's burnt out and wants to be with family or today's comment from Palin's ex-almost-son-in-law Levi Johnston that he thinks she's leaving to make some money.

Well I read the RW article and am convinced that she's quitting to train for a new marathon PR! She ran the 2005 Humpy's Classic Marathon in Anchorage in under 4 hours (3:59:36). Palin then goes on to say "It wasn't necessarily a good running time, but it proves I have the endurance within me to at least gut it out and that is something."

So there you have it. While Palin is pleased about running a sub-4, I'm certain she is about to go into stealth training mode for perhaps a sub 3:30 performance!? Go for it, Sarah!

I reviewed her performance on my favorite marathon events website, www.MarathonGuide.com, and she finished 63rd overall out of 203 finishers and was 15th out of 63 women finishers. Nice job!

She made a few statements in the article that may ring hollow now that she's resigned: "You get bummed and burned out sometimes in running and in politics, but if you're in for the long haul and you're in it because you know that it is a good thing, then you get out there and you do it anyway" and "He (dad) used to tell us to call on the rock during a race when we were hurting and we were tired and wanted to quit." Maybe she couldn't find a rock.

Here are some neat additional photos of Sarah Palin in her running gear (though oddly none of them actually show her running).

Well enough of that. Another ex-Governor, Eliot Spitzer, was also profiled in Runner's World back in late 2006. He ran a 3:58:43 New York Marathon in 1983 at the age of 24. Palin's got him beat as she ran her sub-4 at age 41. In Spitzer's article, he says "My wife doesn't mind when I slip out at 5 a.m." ...hmmm, slipping out to do what...?

How about these other marathon performances by well known politicians:

  • George W. Bush ran the 1993 Houston Marathon in 3:44:52 at age 47.  Nice job W!
  • John Edwards ran the 1983 Marine Corps Marathon in 3:30:18 at age 30.  Well done.
  • Al Gore as V.P. ran the 1997 Marine Corps Marathon in 4:58:25 at age 49. Oprah did the race in 4:29:20 in 1994.
  • Mike Huckabee has run 4 marathons with a best of 4:37:34 in Little Rock at age 50.
  • Michael Dukakis ran the 1951 Boston Marathon in 3:31, good for 57th overall at age 18.

Sarah made a comment that rings very clear! "Is running nonpartisan? 'Oh, thank God, it's nonpartisan. It doesn't matter your background, your demographics, your race, your political affiliation—it's such a uniting, healthy, fun, awesome activity.'"  WE AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY, SARAH!  Running is an AWESOME activity!  YOU BETCHA!

Pumping Iron or Dumping My Run? Conejo Joe's 20 Minute Strength Workout!

Pumping iron and running are not mutually exclusive.

Though my friends may not know it until I rip off my shirt and show them my pectorals the size of well, uh, medium sized chicken breasts, I've been working out in the gym regularly for the last 30 years.

All right, all right, I'm not exactly a big guy.  Some might call me scrawny at 5' 9" (on my toes) and about 142 lbs., but I consider the guy who used to hang out with Ricardo Montalban and say, "De plane, de plane" to be a little guy.  I'm big compared to him.

But my point, assuming I actually have a point, is that you can run, run well, even improve your running, by working out at the gym.  The reason I make this statement is that I've heard conflicting opinions on the matter.  Overall, assuming you have time to fit strength training workouts into your schedule WITHOUT impacting your running mileage, working out is a good thing to do.

Done correctly, strength training I believe is good preventative medicine for running. Strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments helps your running form and efficiency. 

I don't exactly "enjoy" gym workouts, but I do like feeling and looking lean.  Running does a lot of that by stripping the excess lbs from your body, but working out adds some shape. 

Some people I talk to are afraid that gym workouts will make their muscles "too big" and thus it will hurt their running.  I've never spoken with a marathon runner training 30, 40 miles a week with this problem.

Conejo Joe's 20 Minute Workout

My gym workout used to be an hour or more, but I don't have time for that anymore, especially with a family, a job and training for a marathon, not to mention slaving over the hot keyboard.  I've condensed my workout down to 20 nonstop minutes.  It goes like this:

  1. 1 set abdominal crunches (20 to 60 reps)
  2. 1 set chest exercise (high reps, low/no weight, like push-ups)
  3. 1 set back (10 to 15 reps, usually lat pulldowns on a machine)
  4. Repeat #2
  5. Repeat #3
  6. 1 set chest (10 to 15 reps, bench press, moderate weight)
  7. 1 set back (10 to 12 reps, seated or standing rows, moderate weight)
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Life Happens...Training Must Go On!

As George W. Bush would say (or maybe he said it), training for a marathon is HARD WORK!

In the mid to late 1990s I was regularly running marathons in the 2:35 to 2:40 range, with a personal best of 2 hours, 35 minutes in the Los Angeles Marathon.

Back then, things were a lot less complicated for me.  Single, young, healthy, good looking (OK, maybe that's a stretch) and plenty of time to train.  And probably most importantly, plenty of time to recuperate from hard training.

Today I'm 44, turning 45 in less than a month.  Married, with 3 boys, stay-at-home wife, trying to make ends meet.  Waking up early to train.  Staying up late (after kids' bedtime) to catch up with life and blog.

Why is it that any time I start feeling GOOD about my training, something happens that interferes with it!?  I know I'm not alone on this.  It takes a lot of work to train for the marathon and to maneuver around all the obstacles in its path.

Injuries and illness of course are the typical issues we face.  Yes, we rest, we ice, we medicate, we get over it and come back.  But the everyday aspects of LIFE are what present a constant challenge in our training.

Like this Father's Day weekend.  I had planned to sleep late, train long, nap and relax.  But (slap, slap), come on, let's get real.  I've got 2 young boys who want to spend time with me.  We went camping and had a blast, but I came outta that experience with a stiff neck, 4 hours sleep and boy am I tired.

But life and training must go on.  As we drive back home I'm placing toothpicks between my eyelids to keep them open, look in the rear view mirror and see my 3 and 6 year olds pleasantly snoozing away.  I smile at how cute they look and remember how I used to be able to do that.  Then I can't help but visualize a squirt gun being reloaded under water.  These guys will be raring to go, just as I'm ever so needing a good nap.

What a week...mom calls to tell me she drove herself to the emergency room with chest pains, a very close relative diagnosed with terminal cancer, a sore left big toe, flat tire, big work deadline, broken sprinklers, 3 birthday parties, getting over a cold, the list goes on.

Yes, LIFE happens.  This is why I've revised my race goals.  I am targeting a sub-3 hour marathon in December.  As much as I really want to regain my younger glory days of hard training and fast racing, I'm keeping my goals aligned with my life's circumstances.

I will do my best and I will keep plugging away with my training (it has been 2 months now since I started).  But I will keep things in perspective.

Keep it real, keep it fun.  You're not earning a living from marathoning, so don't make it a job.  Do make running a habit, but allow for some unplanned "down time" in your training to reflect the realities of your daily life!

P.S. Last week's training for me was 40 miles as I gradually recovered from last week's cold and came back on Saturday with a 10.5 miler.

Get the Message? Get a Massage!

First off, I have to mention this past weekend's Senior Concerns Love Run one more time.  I attended an reception for event volunteers and sponsors yesterday.  What a nice group of people who are dedicated to the local Meals on Wheels program!  With the support of this race and other donors, Senior Concerns will provide over 50,000 meals to seniors in the Conejo Valley who are unable to shop or cook for themselves this year.  For nearly 35 years this organization has made a positive, direct impact on the lives of local seniors.

Additionally, I witnessed first-hand the wonderful generosity of the local Jersey Mike's organization.  Jersey Mike's assumed title sponsorship of the event and donated $10,000 and lots of delicious food for the the event.  I personally visit Jersey Mike's about 2 times a week and love their sandwiches and their upbeat staff.  Visit www.JerseyMikes.com or click HERE for local Jersey Mike's locations.

So after the race, I was pretty darn sore.  I gave it a pretty good effort and my legs felt it.  So even though after the race I pretty much wanted to curl up in a ball and take a nap, I knew the best thing I could do was to "cool down."  Drink some water and do a very slow 10 minutes or so to get the blood flowing in my legs.

The next thing that would have been nice to do would be to jump in a cool, refreshing pool and/or put some ice on the sore spots.  I didn't do either one due to logistical issues but if I could have, I would

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Looking Out For #1...and #2

So last week I ran about 36 miles.  Wasn't quite what I wanted to do but my right hamstring started bothering me after an 8 mile run on Thursday morning and the smoke from the Santa Barbara fire played some havoc with my lungs.  But that's o.k.  Felt good this morning.

So you get up at 5:30 a.m. one morning for an hour long run.  You roll out of bed, splash some water on your face, gear up, lace up, drink some water, force a piece of toast or banana down, and take off.  You don't really have a lot of time to lounge around, have a cup of coffee, read the paper.  You just wanna take off and get your run in.

The plan is to run for half an hour in one direction, then turn back around, an "out and back" course. You generally start out slow to work into the run, so your plan is actually to run more like 32 minutes on the way out, figuring you will speed up a bit on the way back.

Twelve minutes into the run you pass a public park with restrooms.  You kind of feel like you need to stop but decide you can "hold it" for now.  At the 25 minute mark you realize maybe you should have stopped at the park, for not just #1 but #2 reasons.  But you are determined to run the full 32 minutes so you keep going.

At 26 minutes your internal organs feel like a can of Coke shaken hard.  You realize that a decisive action must take place, either beeline back to that park, roughly 13 minutes, or almost 2 miles away, find somewhere else, or explode.

At this point you could care less how far you run.  You just want relief.  So you veer left as you recall a construction site a few blocks over.  Briefly you ponder ducking behind the dumpster by Vons down the road but quickly decide the it wouldn't be worth the risk of getting caught, aheming, in public.

So your steps become noticable shorter as you do your best to restrain the contents of your innards, running ballerina style, and yes, there's the construction site!  But NOOOO... the gate is locked!!!  Arrggghhhh!!!  Thankfully though, you see an opening on the other side and with your lean runner physique manage to squeeze into the gap and manage your way to the porta-john.

Without any more thought you find the relief you were looking for.  Then look over and realize there is no T.P. in the porta-john. 

So as you jog back home, with socks missing, you think, I gotta plan this out better.

Paula Radcliffe, the current women's marathon record holder, had this problem in the 2008 Olympics.  She made a beeline for the porta-potty and finished 23rd.

Used to happen to me all the time too.  Funny, but no laughing matter when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, or worse yet...SOMEWHERE...and you are unprepared!

So here is my list of things to prepare yourself for when nature calls:

1. Try to time things such that you don't need to "go" in the middle of a run.  Yes, easier said than done I know.  But if you are able to take care of business before you run, that is the best solution.

2. Be careful what you eat.  No doubt in my mind that runners are more "regular" than non-runners because of the jarring motion of running.  In general that means that thing will go through you faster and sometimes unexpectedly.  So before you down that extra lump of wasabi, cup of salsa or bowl of 100% Bran Flakes, ponder the impact on your innards the next day.

3. Plan your runs such that you will have pit stops along the way if needed.  Or if you REALLY have some problems, consider running a loop near your house so you can make a pit stop there.  I have found the most success with this approach. Approximately 10 to 12 minutes into my run, I've resolved my issues and am ready to really start running.

4. Bring items that will enable you to complete your uh, little mission, in an appropriate way.  In other words, consider stuffing some T.P. in your pocket.

5. Wear Depends on your run.  (OK, I'M JUST JOKING!)

OK, now that I've given you all this wonderful information, get on out there and start running!!

Running When There is Smoke in the Air

It is Sunday afternoon, Mother's Day and I haven't felt very good all weekend.  I ran for 50 minutes yesterday morning and another 40 minutes this morning, but my chest hurts when I breathe in deeply and my eyes kind of hurt.

The Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara has burned nearly 9,000 acres over the last 5 days and is now about 55% contained.  I've been concerned for residents of Santa Barbara but I didn't really think about the impact of smoke from the fire on us here in Ventura County.  But there has been an air quality advisory for all of Ventura County all weekend on the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District website at www.vcapcd.org.  The advisory says "Persons sensitive to smoke and particulates should limit time spent outdoors and minimize physical exertion while smoke is in the air." That be me.

Not only did I run for 50 minutes yesterday, but I was at the Conejo Valley Days Carnival for about 5 hours.  So, as a person who is impacted by smoke in the air, I haven't been doing my body much good over the past few days.  I ran like a slug thi s morning.

So be careful out there, especially when the fires are close to home.  Run indoors on a treadmill if possible and minimize your time outdoors if you are sensitive to smoke.

1st Time Marathoner? Check Out Another Marathon!

First off, I hate to say this but my training is still mediocre this week.  It's my own fault.  Not getting to bed on time.  Six hours sleep a night just doesn't cut it.  I'm dragging my grumpy self out of bed to run, but it doesn't feel good.  Maybe I'll take my own advice and start getting to bed earlier so I feel more perky in the morning.

So if you're training for a marathon, especially your first marathon, consider watching another marathon in person, or better yet, volunteer for the event.  This will help get you motivated and prepared for your own race.

There are two upcoming Southern California marathons in May - the Los Angeles Marathon on May 25th and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego on May 31st.  Visit www.lamarathon.com and www.rnrmarathon.com for more information about these events.

The Los Angeles Marathon is only 45 minutes from Ventura County and thus is a great choice.  They always are in need of volunteers...how about handing out water cups at the event so you get a close up view of runners in action. 

The L.A. Marathon Expo is another great and FREE (except parking) opportunity to meet other runners, buy stuff and sample goodies.  This expo is held at the L.A. Convention Center on May 23rd and 24th.  Visit the L.A. Marathon website for more information.

Later in the year, there are marathons in Long Beach on October 11th (www.runlongbeach.com) and Santa Clarita on November 8th (www.scmarathon.org).  Each of these two event also have half marathons.  If you are running the Santa Barbara Marathon like me, then consider signing up for the half marathon at one of these events to test yourself.

I have run each of these marathons.  The L.A. Marathon course has changed more times than I can remember over the years, but is still the biggest event in the area.  While it may not be particularly scenic, this course offers you the opportunity to share the energy of a diverse multi-ethnic community.  rock 'n' Roll is like a big party, with live music dispersed along the course. Very popular with the Team-in-Training crowd. 

Santa Clarita is a lower key race that is a nicely done community event, with a marathon, half marathon, 5K and kids fun run.  Long Beach is one of my favorites and I've done the full marathon and half marathon several times down there.  A nice crowd close to the beach.

So strongly consider attending and/or participating in one or more of these great local events!  It will motivate you!