A disappointing PR

Got up today at 4:15am. Had a cup of cooked oatmeal, a banana, a yogurt, about 6 oz of OJ and a small cup of coffee. I was shooting for about 700 calories for breakfast. Got picked up by my buddy Ankur and his roommate at 5:20am and headed to the Dodgers stadium. Mistake #1 - could have stayed home for another hour. A drop off was quick and we were there at 5:45am. Walked around, hit a portpotty twice, saw a few peepz from my team and headed to my corral.

For some reason, the corral entrance reminded me of the Soviet era line at a liquor store. Everyone tries to get in, people pushing, chicks trying to squeeze in with their boyfriends even though you have to pre-register for a corral spot.... stupidity abound. Once in, it was actually nice since I found a spot by the concrete bench and put my bag of stuff down. Warmed up for a little while - mainly short slow runs, some kicks, shuffles and then 4 strides... Now the right calf started aching during the strides. Oh oh...

The elite women went off at 7:10am or so (all 7 of them, LOL), and then people started pushing towards the front of the line. Now this was looking more like a Slayer concert with people angling for the spot at the stage. Poor volunteer kids were getting pushed and shoved, albeit gently. Mayor speech was short and the gun went off for the rest of the field. We were out of the gate in about a minute after the start of the run.

The right calf was still sore. I had to stop for 20 seconds and massage it. Suddenly it just quieted down and I was on my way downhill. After the first mile I was already way behind my pace... I started trying to catch up. The first 3 miles were mainly downhill and I was getting close to 7:25 min/mile on average. The we started climbing the hill on Temple st and running towards Silver Lake. I was not making up lost time anymore. Not good.

We got to Sunset and it was roughly about 10 km into it. The crowd thinned out and I no longer had to contend for a corner space or watch out for the elbows. Lots of people were out supporting the run and the atmosphere was  plain awesome.  Still I was stuck at 7:30min/mile and I saw no real way to accelerate as I knew that the Hollywood area is going to be full of short, sharp rollers. Eventually I worked my way down to 7:28min/mile at around mile 12. I actually was getting hungry despite having eaten a GU gel at mile 7. Started grabbing orange slices that were abundant throughout the course, and a banana slice here and there. Saw some kid giving away potato chips and grabbed a bunch - thanks kid, you were an awesome help!

Had another GU, as we blasted down Doheny. Again lots and lots of supporters... a very encouraging setting. I was checking for the signs of fatigue as were getting past mile 15 and saw little... quads were tightening a little from the hill running, but nothing too dramatic. The average pace was at around 7:29 min/mile. Then came the stretch on Burton. Pure sufferfest for some  reason. A non-ending false flat, with a nasty wind in my face. Got to turn around on Wilshire and run a short while til the intersection of Santa Monica. This is where I started to feel the legs talking to me. I knew that I had some appreciable rollers ahead of me as we would cross Westwood and I was getting worried.

Took another GU and tried to keep the pace from dropping past 8 min/mile. Not terribly successful... was hoping to find someone to draft off since the had wind really picked up and could not find anyone willing to go at my clip... Eventually got to the VA site and at that point I knew that I'd be about 5 mins behind my goal time. There was no way I would be to run a 42 minute 10k from that point. I was so bummed by this realization.

Ran down San Vincente without too much enthusiasm. It was getting really freaking cold too! 54 F with wind. The crowds were very good as we hit Santa Monica. Finally saw my kids and wifey and my dad at the 14th street and it gave me a good moral boost. From there I ran pretty strong and hit the finish chute sprinting. Walked past the KTLA crew as they were interviewing some guy and apparently they caught me on TV. Yay! Finish time was 3:21:57, a PR but almost 7 minutes worse than the goal. Link here.

The organizers for some reason intended for everyone to walk down Ocean Ave almost til the Santa Monica Pier. I was getting cold, hungry and thirsty all at the same time. Grabbed a bagel, 2 bananas, water and cliff bar and a space blanket and sneaked past the barricades. Started walking towards my dad's place on Euclid and I was getting really cold, like nearly hypothermic. Wife had to come pick me up half way into my mini deathmarch. Got to my dad's place, took a hot shower, changed into some clean clothes and had some chicken soup with a huge chicken breast. Life was good again, except for no BQ for me today.

Gonna take a day or 2 off and then get into the pool.


The day before

Tomorrow is the marathon day! I am already feeling the adrenaline rush in my blood. Everything feels frantic, accelerated and sort of blurry. I could not fall asleep yesterday without a sleeping pill, and it almost never happens to me. But I feel good and ready. The snot is almost gone from the nasal cavity and my breathing is good again.

This morning I slept in on purpose and woke up at 8am. Put on my full running garb, and went for a short 3 mile run at about 90% speed. Everything was clicking good, the pace was steady and I had no issue with the right hip or the left knee. Yay! Did a quick dash to Olive and back and was all done by 8:30am. Beautiful weather too, even though it did get warm after 11am. The results here.

Tomorrow I will leave at 5:30am for the stadium. Wish me luck!

Easy Thursday

Woke up at around 5am since I had to be in the South bay by 8:30am to attend a conference. Ate and drove to the gym in the Paramount lot. Had a quick work out, only upper body and midsection. I gotta start coming to the gym earlier - it's so nice and empty, and there is a weird frantic morning energy there.

After that spent an hour in traffic to get to Manhattan Beach, then another hour and a half to get back... the 405 is terrible. Don't know how people can take it daily. In the evening I headed to the track and ran 3 miles very slowly. Like 9:30min/mile slow. Actually, after the driving and the gym and the stupid droning conference I had little energy left, so this was fine. Also wanted to see how's the left knee was doing. It seemed to be fine. It was super sweltering, almost Florida like. Hopefully this will not be the Sunday weather. Results here.

Tomorrow I am resting. Will pick up the bib at lunch!

Commute day

It's so awesome that it doesn't get dark til 7pm or so now. This means that I can bike to work again! Which is what I did today. It saves me about $7 in gas and mileage so I can promptly spend it on food and beverage in the cafeteria :) The other goal was to ride at a higher than usual cadence to spin out before the long run on the weekend. My target was about 95 rpm average.

Left the house at around 8am. It was still a little cold, but nothing too bad. Since I have not ridden in traffic in  the Hollywood traffic for almost 5 months, took me a little while to get used to the subtle skill of keeping the side vision going at all times. The ride to work was pretty quiet with little traffic at all until I hit the Silver Lake.  Los Feliz was busy as usual and the Melrose Hill was packed with people trying to get out of their lanes.

On the way back, took the same route as I did not want to climb much. One was or the other you pick up about 700 feet of elevation on the way back as you ride back towards the hills. It was hot and the people were as always pissed off after the working day. But I made a good time (about 50 mins to get back). The 6th street in Burbank needs to be repaved though! The pavement is all effed up. Results here and here. Tomorrow I hit the gym for a light workout and then maybe a little run at night.

Hard Tuesday

Basically, the last hard-ish day before the marathon. Slept very poorly today, the time change is still not set right with my inner clock. Got up at 5:45am today and headed to the pool. Dark and cold still, and the windshield is frozen even. And imagine that - there's traffic on the 101 at this hour! Got to the pool and there was like 1 lane left open, and it is the one by the stairs!

Swam 600 yards easy, just warming up. Legs felt sluggish, so I swam a couple of lanes with the kickboard. Felt better and then got to the intervals - 8x75 sprints. Felt kinda hard actually - I think that the best time I showed was 1:19 for like the 5th or the 6th sprint. 20 seconds rest intervals don't really leave you much room for heroics after the 4th sprint anyways. After that swam another 600 pretty easy with some hard 25s thrown in here and there.

Got home, worked on my theatrical stuff at Paramount... lunch was spent just sitting outside and sun bathing. Felt great and not even sleepy or anything.

Went to the track at 6:10pm. At first it was just me and the 3 Hispanic dudes who always run on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They were hauling ass, and were kinda smirking at me as I was warming up. Then I did my 2 miles tempo and I was hoping to keep it at 6:50 or so but it was not in the cards... kept it at 7:00 just like I was supposed to. Towards the end of the last mile the left knee was feeling a little tender underneath. Odd.

Then I got to doing the 800s at 6:30 and suddenly my legs woke up and I was running quite well. No more smirks from the tres hermanos! 400s were even better and I did one of them at 5:17 min/mile. Results here. Warmed down with 3 slow laps, stretched and headed to pick up my daughter. Tomorrow will be the bike to work day (and my birthday, yay!). And then after that - total taper til Sunday!

40 miler

Got up this morning to have the time leap forward by 1 hour. One more incentive to leave home early before it gets hot! Originally was going to go through Montrose and then pick up an extra 10 in the park, but then I got a better idea - why don't I try to simulate the Wildflower route. So the plan was to do a short, sharp climb in the beginning of the ride, then ride the flats for 20 miles or so, then do a monster climb and then do another short climb towards the end. Awright!

Rode down Kenneth to Olive and turned left up the hill. It was quite windy actually and the climb was a bit slower than usual. Once I crested, rode to Sonora and down to the LA River bike path. Now the wind was in my back and I got to hammer all the way to the 110. Some dude hung with me and was sucking on my wheel all the way to the turnaround. He actually passed me as I was slowing down near the turning point, and rode out back north... but then got off his bike and started walking :) I guess that riding 7 miles at about 22.5 mph got to him eventually.

On the way back I was facing the wind and the ride was tough. So I got to spin out a little and got my heartrate back down to 140. Rode back to Los Feliz and got ready to climb the Western Canyon route. There was surprisingly little traffic and got to the gate without having to dodge the usual minivans. Past the gate the wind was in my face again and the climb was tough. I ran out of the gears a couple of times. Finally got to the top, and stopped to down a few GU Chomps. It hit the spot and I rode down pretty quickly.

Back through the Forest Lawn to Olive route and then to Riverside. Stopped under the 134 bridge and some guys caught up with me. They rode pretty fast and I hung with them until Victory. After that it was a quick dash to the home base. Results here All in all 40 miles, and I felt a little tired. Probably the training yesterday still had me fatigued. Now I need to concentrate on resting for the next weekend. 

1 week til the marathon

Only 1 week to go. From the running perspective I am tapering off. But from the triathlon training perspective, I am in the middle of the 16 week training cycle! Go figure!

Yesterday, it poured all day. I was supposed to do a short morning ride, but the weather gods did not smile on me... and so  I ended up at the gym on a stationary bike. 50 minutes of rolling hills went by quickly, but it was a decent effort - 14.86 miles, 160 Watts average power. I'll take it. The rest of the day was spent working and looking at the marathon route, visualizing the elevations and the effort it'd require to complete it under 3:15. I am not sure if  I am quite there at the moment. The 2 colds I had this winter probably set me back in training... but I am hoping for the best.

This morning I went to the pool and did a 1500 yard workout. The core of it was 300 yards warm up, 3x300 yards intervals@race pace and 300 yards of cooling down. The 300 yards times were 5:00 min, 4:53 min and 5:15 min, with 30 seconds rest in between. I felt alright, not too heavily worked. After the cool down I did a few short laps with the kickboard, trying to keep up the pace with some of the better swimmers out there also working the kickboard. I actually had a bit of a breakthrough today - I've realized that I need to kick from underneath the hips and really make sure that the legs are near the surface. It makes a pretty dramatic difference.

Came back, drove kids to various activities, and then went out for a 5 mile run. Wanted to keep it as close to 7 min/mile as possible with the hills around my house. My usual 5 mile loop has about 300 feet of elevation so it is not a trivial exercise. Went out pretty strong and really hammered the slow descent to Alameda. Then ran up to Kenneth and started running as hard as I can back up the ascent. Kept the pace at 7:18 til I crested near Muir Middle School and then hammered the downhill. By the time I finished back near my house, I was close to 7:07 average pace. Now I felt worked! Results here.

Tomorrow will be the long ride on my roadie (the trike is still waiting on the new brake levers), and perhaps a slow run. After that, for the next week we have 2 swims, 1 short bike ride, 1 short intervals workout+plus some minor runs.... and that does it.

First swim of 2013

Got up at 5:45am, ate a clif bar with a banana, fed the kids and headed to the Van Nuys pool. Surprisingly there was no traffic at all on the way there! Not sure why, since it is almost always a battlefield in the morning. Was in the pool by 7am. It was pretty crowded, with a bunch of high school swimmer kids occupying 1/3 of the pool and the WH masters taking up another 4 lanes. But nonetheless found an open lane and jumped in.

I was fearing that I would be completely out of gas 15 minutes into it. However, strangely I just swam through a mile and then a little bit more... and noticed little fatigue. I did not want to do any drills on my first swim of the year, just needed to know whether I am even capable of swimming through a HIM distance. It appears that I am. Will do another swim on Saturday and then will start picking up workouts.

The drive to work was also quick, with some traffic near the Universal Studios, but otherwise all good. Got out the office at 6pm, got home, hung out with the kids and then headed to the track for the 2nd to last intervals workout before the marathon. It was a pretty straightforward set - 2 miles tempo, 2 x 800 cruising, 2x400 speed intervals. The track was pretty empty, I guess that most people are either done with their pre-marathon training or were scared away from a wet forecast. The 400s were pretty fun. I was surprised to see that I did both of them in under 5:50 min/mile. I remember that last week I struggling to run 800s at the SI speed below 6:09... hmmm.  Results here.

Tomorrow is probably going to be too wet to ride outside, so it will be an hour on the trainer.

Trail ruin

Took a couple of days off from any aerobic exercise to let the congestion go away. Almost there, but the cold/flu is still kinda lingering. What a gross little flu season we have this year! In any case, decided to go do my usual 7 mile trail run in the morning in Griffiths park.

It was pretty warm actually when I started at 8am. Maybe it is Spring time afterall. I wanted to keep a good pace, probably close to 7:30ish for this run. It felt pretty good, with the trail being full of runners (clearly it is almost the time for the LA marathon, lol). The only thing I did not like was how I ran the second short hill near the end of the trail - it felt forced and kind of hard in terms of the effort. Had to blow my nose a couple of times too to clear the snot.

The last mile was run pretty fast - specifically, close to 5:45 min/mile in the last 0.75 miles! Good stuff - results here. I still feel like I am not quite there for the Boston qualifying pace. My guess would be that my time would nearer 3:20. Just my hunch. Tomorrow is the first swim + a short intervals workout. Yay! 

Sunday ride

There's less than 2 weeks left to the LA Marathon 2013. I am still working through the 16 week program, but at this point I need to start shifting my focus to cycling since this is what Wildflower is about. Also swimming needs to resume, and the last but not least I need to shake off the remnants of the last weeks flu. Still feeling it a little.

With that said, I planned a rather short but intense ride. I was going to hit Mount Hollywood from the Vermont Canyon side, so that I would be able to climb a couple short but steep streets and the canyon around the golf park. Also the Vermont climb is a little shorter and overall steeper than the Western Canyon climb. The converge at the intersection that takes you to the observatory.

Left the house after lunch. Did not have my tri bike today (left it in the shop yesterday to get some work done). Of course it was windy as hell, and I really wished that I had the aerobars at my disposal. Wind seemed to have been coming from every direction possible no matter where I turned. Even climbing in the rather secluded Hollywood hills felt harder than usual due to consistently strong gusts.

It eased up a little when I got to Vermont Canyon. The traffic was dense and I had to carefully navigate the switchback until I got to the tunnel. Not a fan of that thing... cars can barely see you. Once I got past the gate I somehow managed to get the chain stuck and dropped it... first time this year. Weird - it's a new chain. Maybe the right shifter is starting to go. Finished climbing and came down Mount Hollywood drive pretty fast. Climbing felt reasonably strong considering that I ran 13 miles the day before.

After I did a quick dash through the Forest Lawn stretch (the wind was so strong that I had to ride on the drops pretty much to Olive). Crossed back through Riverside drive, and then climbed Sonora to Brand Park. Again, lots of traffic on Sunset Canyon. Not sure why. Cut back to the 6th through Harvard and I was home! Got to enjoy the steak with mashed pot and arugula salad. Yummy! Results here.

Alright, so no aerobic activity for the next 2 days. Need to start rejuvenating! 

Friday/Saturday

Slowly recovering from the flu, but this round of it was pretty bad. The whole family is sick, with the exception of the dog :). Nasty bug, for sure. Co-workers seems to be going in and out of it too.

Yesterday, went for a quick morning ride before work. Nothing record setting, just a quick ride to downtown and back on the LA River bike trail and then a loop through the park. The trail was pretty windy on the way back, and I was feeling the muscle fatigue from the speed intervals on Thursday. Gotta say, the surface in one spot, about 3/4 mile from the Glendale freeway, is absolutely horrific. Very dangerous if you happen to be on the aerobars and have someone else riding through the same spot in the opposite direction.

After I finished the trail part, rode up to Trash Hill. The climb was ok, nothing groundbreaking. Came down and rode through the Forest Lawn to Olive. A lot of wind by the sports club, pretty tough spot. Rode down Olive to Riverside and to the Equestrian club. While riding by Pickwick Ice Center, a car turned left right in front of me, and I missed it by a couple inches despite all the braking! In fact, I hit the trail end of it with my right knuckles! I thought that the wrist would be broken, but nothing, not even a swelling! And the bastard did not even stop! Typical LA shithead driver. Wrapped up the ride and headed to work. Results here.

Today went for my last long run. 13 miles was on tap, and I decided to wimp out and run in on the track.Of course, it happened to be a hotter than usual day and I also happened to sleep in after playing poker with my neighbors  Started at 9:00am  and it was already plenty warm on the track. Was shooting to run about 7:30 min/mile, nothing too crazy. But the fatigue and congestion were still being felt. Ended up running 4 seconds slower than planned, but still a decent run. Results here. A long bike ride tomorrow, and after that I am starting to taper.