Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Race Records...

I had a great month of running. I've been setting personal best times in every race I've done this past month. It's been incredible.

So, On October 7th I ran the Sacramento Cowtown Marathon. It's a pretty fast course, but it's two loops of a Half Marathon distance. Kind of OK, but can get a bit boring. Fortunately, I didn't know the course, so it was all pretty new to me. I took 3 minutes off my previous best time for the marathon, which I set back in 2002, finishing in 3:45.

On October 14th, yep, just one week later, I ran that Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon. I blew away my previous best time for this distance, taking over 7 minutes off my time and finishing in 1:33. In addition, I checked my split times and I'd also taken over a minute off my 10k best time, during the first 10k of the half marathon. So, in two weeks I set 3 new personal best race times. Wow!

Now, yesterday I ran the Silicon Valley Marathon, in San Jose, CA and did it again. This time I took a whopping 13 minutes off my best time from just a few weeks ago. I finished this race in 3:32. That's just 12 minutes over what I need to qualify for Boston.

Over the winter I'm switching up my training program, I'm going to buckle down to SparkPeople again and lower my weight a little more and improve my strength and speed, so that in May I can do that qualifying run.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Updated Body Comp...

I scheduled another body composition test with the manager of the company gym today, so I had that done at lunch before I went out for my run in 88F 29% humidity conditions, to work on my tan.

I had the caliper test done last in mid March, so it's been a while. I've dropped 15lbs since then and the test shows that I've also dropped another 3% BF.

I'm down to 14% body fat and looking at my new target of 160lbs and 10% BF. Let's see if I can get there. This last stretch is going to be a tough one, I'm sure.

Now I need to start working some resistance training into my program as I appear to be losing a little muscle mass, or lean body mass, along with the fat.

The tan is coming along well. Hopefully, I'll have some more progress shots to show after my week in Yosemite, later this month.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Still running...

I've been getting out running. A lot! Saturday, I didn't have enough time to run the entire distance in one go, so I go out early and ran 5 miles. Then attended the San Jose Fit seminar and took my group out for another 7 miles. At that point I had to leave and be assistant coach at my 7yr old daughter's final soccer game of the spring season. The girls did great, so the coach wanted to get them all together for ice cream as a celebration for a great season. The girls won all but one of their games.

I was supposed to take my older daughter to her game after that, but my wife decided that she'd go instead because otherwise we would have had to swap kids so that the younger one could still go to the ice cream gathering. When I got home, my 13yr old son was finally out of bed, at 11am, so I left him to watch the 7yr old while I ran another 6 miles.

When my older daughter got back from her game, she wanted to go out and run another mile, since we're trying to improve her fitness level and get out a few times a week to run a 1 mile loop in our neighborhood. So, 19 miles total for the day. It was a pretty cool day, starting off in the high 60's and my last run was in the high 70's.

I've been running topless, too. ;-) Gotta work on that tan, eh? So, when I ran at 11am on Saturday, I didn't bother to dirty another shirt. ;-) I've been running my weekday lunchtime runs without a shirt, too, or at least I've been taking the shirt off part way through the run.

The only disadvantage to this is now I'll have a tanned upper body and lower legs, but I'll have this awful honky white ass. hahaha! ;-)

We started our hill runs last night. Every Monday, from now until mid-September, we'll get together at a local county park and run up into the hills and back. Usually we'll run between 4 and 9 miles, depending on the group and the route, and how we feel. Last night was almost 10k in just over an hour.

I'm still trying to think about my reward for achieving my weight loss goal. I've really got an itch to get my nipples pierced, but my wife is trying to persuade me not to do it, so I'm still up in the air about it. I hadn't really thought about anything else. Also, now I'm at my original goal weight, I still see all these rolls of fat around my waist and don't feel that I've really accomplished what I wanted, so I'm pushing ahead for another 10lbs to see if I can work those off and get closer to being able to see those abs. ;-)

My 10yr old's soccer team had a swim party on Sunday, at a local cabana club. I got a lot of compliments about my weight loss there from some of the other parents who've known me for a while. That was pretty cool, and I got to work on my tan a bit more, too. ;-)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

SparkPeople Stages...

Wow! I just signed over to Stage 4 in this SP thing. It's hard to believe I've been here that long, but just looking at my weight loss chart I've come a long way. I need to get some progress photos into my gallery this weekend. I know I've come a long way there, since the March shots when I weighed 190lbs. I've weighed in at the gym at 170lbs for the past two days, so that's what I've just updated my progress to.

Marathon season is heating up, so my running is going to be increasing distance. I've got to train for San Francisco a the end of July, at which point I plan to have lost another 10lbs and be in great shape for setting a new marathon PR.

So, last month's Nike+ challenge finished. I won! Whoo hoo! With my 11 mile run yesterday, I was able to jump over the other two guys ahead of me and win by about 6 miles. Now, let's see if I can do it again for June, eh?

I celebrated by riding my bicycle to work again. That's another 1000 calories burned today, along with the 650 calories for today's 5 mile run. 14 miles scheduled for tomorrow, too.

and... after a break....

So, my training schedule for San Francisco called for 14 miles today. San Jose Fit were running 9 miles this morning, so that was a good start. I had thought I would have time to ru the extra 5 miles right after I'd got back with my group, but it didn't turn out that way. My daughter has a soccer game in Salinas, so my wife needed to leave around 10am to take her there. She couldn't take my other daughter, because they wouldn't be back in time for her game at 2pm, so I needed to be available for the trade off.

So, we met at Starbucks and grabbed a coffee and a bagel. That's my lunch for today, since I ate breakfast at 6:30am this morning, before going for my run.

Once I got back to the house, my son was finally awake -- teenagers, eh? ;-) So, now he can watch the 7yr old while I finish up that last 5 miles. Well, I don't really have a 5 mile loop, but I do have a 6 mile loop. So, that's what I ran. Total distance 15 mile, time 2hrs 4 min. Not bad.

After I cleaned up I took some new progress shots, since I'm now a pretty consistent 170lbs, which happens to be my original goal. So Whoo Hoo! me! Way to go, pat on the bad and a jolly good show and all that. Now, on to my revised goal of 160lbs by the end of July, which is what I want to weigh when I make my benchmark attempt at the Boston Qualifying time.

I guess I need to work on my tan now. ;-) Have a good weekend.

Nike+ Challenges...

I haven't blogged in a while. I've been cycling a lot more recently, trying to force more of a calorie deficit by adding 20 miles of cycling a day. I'm commuting on my bike, rather than driving or taking public transit. It's better for the environment, too. ;-)

Anyway, I've been a bit on the injured reserve as far as running goes. I've got this nagging calf muscle pain, but I think I've figured it all out now and I should be getting back out there again, today.

I've got about 8 miles planned for today, then about 5 tomorrow and 14 on Saturday. After that, we'll see how things are looking again. I'm lining up my training in preparation for the San Francisco Marathon on July 29th. I also want to lose about another 10lbs before I get there, so that I can put in a really good showing towards my Boston Qualifying time.

OK, I caved to the pressure to win. This morning I was 0.2 miles behind the leader in my May Nike+ challenge. The question was how many miles does he have left to upload? How many miles will he run today?

I thought I'd go out for an 8 mile run. Perhaps that would be enough. Right? Well, when I got out there, I felt pretty good, so I kept going. Past the turn around for 9 miles, and a bit further. By the time I got back to work, I'd clocked 11.2 miles on the Nike+. Cool, eh? Stupid perhaps? Will I win? We'll find out tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ohlone Wilderness 50k

I really wanted to stay in bed when my alarm went off at 4:30am yesterday. Ugh! I've scheduled a race! The biggest motivator for getting out of bed was that I'd paid good money for the run, and damn it, I was going to participate, no matter how much it hurt.

All week I'd been suffering from pain in my right calf. It started during my Tuesday run and then got worse when I tried to run home from the office on Wednesday. Consequently, I didn't run again until Saturday, with my group at the San Jose Fit training. Even there, I ended up walking part of the last mile of the 7 mile run.

So, come Sunday morning, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to complete the 50k distance, or if I'd just get pulled at the 9 mile cut-off point for failing to progress.

I had everything laid out the night before, so I was ready to go. I chowed down on my breakfast; some Nature's Path Granola, a banana, and some Kefir. The Dean Karnazes recipe calls for Greek Yogurt, but the Kefir works just as well, I'm sure.

It was about an hour drive from my house in San Jose, up to Livermore and to the Del Valle Regional Park. The race organizers had arranged to have most of the runners park at the finish and then take a bus to the starting area in Fremont. That just happens to be half way back home for me, but this arrangement is easier for me, since I'll have a car at the end and not have to rely on a crew, or my family coming to collect me. I was expecting school buses, but we ended up with 3 party buses -- the ones with wavy cushioned seats, a wet bar, tv/dvd, radio, etc -- and two stretch hummer limos. That was a nice way to travel to the start of a race. ;-)

Once we all arrived at the start area, we had to checkin with the race volunteers, so that they knew how many runners actually started the race. Then we had about 40 minutes to wait inline for the bathrooms, before the race actually started.

Just before 8am we all gathered to hear the pre-race briefing. We were told about a course change, which really meant nothing to me as I'd never run this one before, and that the course might seem a little shorter than in previous years. Oh, big deal! Anyway, runners who were concerned about the shortened course were advised to run around the parking lot at the end of the run to make up as much distance as they wanted to. ;-)

Now, the race starts in the Mission Peak Regional Park, travels though along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail and finishes in the Lake Del Valle Regional Park. For those who don't know this area, it's pretty hilly. It looks like a bunch of ruffles in the landscape between the San Francisco Bay Area and the California Central Valley. Fortunately, we didn't have to run all the way to the Central Valley side of the hills. So, anyway, this kind of meant that we start the run and immediately begin to climb. Because of my calf problems, I decided to take things easy and start this race at a blistering walking pace.

The first 4 or 5 miles of the course wind up the hillside to the top of Mission Peak. There's a relatively easy path on a fire road, which is where most visitors travel. About 1/3 of the way up the hill, our course takes off on a less traveled single track and starts bouncing up and down, instead of continuing upwards. We passed through fields of cows, a couple of streams and lots of switchbacks before finally arriving at the top, where there is an observation post.I've been to this point before, so I know that the post contains about a dozen telescope type tubes that you can use to view various Bay Area landmarks. They're all labelled so you know what you're looking at. It's pretty neat. Anyway, on race day, we don't stop to take a look. We have to be satisfied with the fleeting glimpses of the spectacular panoramic vistas, and continue on our way. From this point we head downhill for a ways and lose sight of the Bay Area as we head into the trees.

Of course, the problem with downhill is that you have to watch your footing. About half-way down the single track coming off the top of the peak, I managed to plant both feet and have them slip from under me. Fortunately, I was able to spare my left hand any injury because I was holding a water bottle and it cushioned the impact. My right hand didn't fair as well, but was still OK. My butt got a little dirty, but I had instant visions of having ripped my shorts and having to run the rest of the race with my ass cheeks hanging out. Gee, if I'd wanted to do that all day, I'd have run the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco instead. Fortunately, all was fine and I could continue on.

The first aid station doesn't have much beyond the electrolyte drink and some Clif Shots, so I rinsed off the dirty bottle form my fall, refilled all of my water bottles, grab a Raspberry energy gel and head on to the bottom of the hill at the Sunol aid station.

The trails to Sunol were uneventful. They were a moderate downhill, which gave me an opportunity to test my leg muscles for running and I was pleasantly surprised that I was fine. There was still some sensation in the muscles, but not really any pain. So, I kept going at an easy relaxed pace.

They had strawberries at Sunol. Yum! Of course, they also had the usual PB&J sandwiches, but this group used whole wheat bread. Score! Awesome! ..and Grandma's cookies, too. I'm in heaven! Great aid station food, my legs are feeling pretty good. Onward!

On Wednesday, I took at seminar on race walking techniques. I tried to put these to good use over the remainder of the race. For the 10 miles after Sunol, the course was mostly uphill. I had thought that Mission Peak was the highest point on the course, until around mile 18, when I looked back to see that we'd climbed above the level of Mission Peak and still hadn't reached the top of the final climb. Ugh! It turned out that we hit close to 4000 feet of elevation at the highest point. So, 2/3 of the way through the run and now it's mostly downhill. Of course, the trouble is that the term "mostly" is used instead of "all". ;-)

Yes, there was still plenty of uphill left for us on this course. The rest is kind of blurry in my memory. I ended up running most of the last 10 miles with my friend Christina. I think the only reason I was able to stay with her was because she had run a 50 mile race the previous weekend and a 100k race a week or two before that. If I hadn't had calf problems I could have stayed ahead of her on this run, but satisfied myself with some company. We traveled up and down on both fire road and single track. Some of the single track trails were quite overgrown, too, making the progress difficult, even though about 150 people had come through there ahead of us.

During that last 10 miles, we also started passing people. Those who had started out too quickly and were beginning to fade. The race walking and my energy reserves were doing well for me in this one and I was able to run all the flat sections and a lot of the downhills. Some of the fire road downhills were still a bit too steep to be run comfortably, so I kept my speed in check. That's a bit tough on the quads, though, but at least I didn't fall again.

We started getting glimpses of the lake we'd left earlier in the morning. A positive sign that we were almost done. Just keep putting one foot infront of the other and we'll get there. Then I spotted a car, then the rest of the parking lot. It must be close now! Around a corner and things started to look familiar, then I spotted the finish shoot. The trail had been flat for about half a mile, so I was still running and I kicked it up a bit just to get things over with.

I finished in a little over 8hrs and 10 minutes. Considering the elevation change along the course, and my muscle issues from the start, I think that worked quite well. My calf didn't really hurt anymore, but I wasn't sure if that was because it was better, or because the pain from everywhere else was just masking it. ;-)

My rewards for running that distance, and surviving? A nicely carved wooden plaque, a commemorative pair of running shorts, and a fluorescent green running shirt!

They had a BBQ laid on, but most of it was picked over by the time I got there. I retrieved my sweat check back, my goodie bag, grabbed a drink and headed to my car. It was time to leave. My mother-in-law was minding my kids and I needed to rescue her from them. ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

When it rains...

Well, I'm in recovery again. No long runs recently, but I'm getting back to it. I have to be ready for the Ohlone Wilderness 50k this weekend.

Trouble is I got myself into a bit of a pickle last week, which is why I haven't really been posting anything, since there wasn't that much to write about. Anyway, here's what happened.

My wife & I were engaging in some "adult gymnastics" on the Sunday before last, and something got tweaked. I think this is only the second injury, in my life, from this kind of activity. ;-) Two injuries 20 years apart. Not bad a bad record, I suppose. ;-)

Anyway things felt like a muscle strain, or cramp. Obviously activities had to stop and I spent some time trying to relax and let the muscle return to normal. I thought it was a psoas cramp. Relaxing seemed to help, but Monday morning I was still in pain and sitting or moving around seemed to aggravate the condition.

I tried a Yoga class at lunch to see if stretching would help. There was mild relief, but nothing long lasting. I was still having trouble.

By Monday afternoon I was still in pain, so I called my chiropractor and got an appointment to see him to sort out the pelvic alignment. It turns out that my sacrum and lumbar were locked up and he was able to free that. This gave me a little relief, but not much.

Tuesday morning seemed better, but not really. After walking around for a while things became progressively more painful. So, I called my GP to see if I could get to see him. My wife was leaving early anyway, so she came to drive me home, since we'd carpooled together earlier in the day. By this time the "muscle strain" had transformed to a feeling like I'd been kicked in the nuts. Ugh! This was painful!

I had a couple of hours before my appointment with the Doc, so I rested laying down on the couch. This helped enormously, so that by the time we left the house, for my appointment, I was feeling more normal again. At least for a short while.

As the doc checked me out, he decided that my abdominal muscles seemed fine, as did the intestines, and there was no sign of a hernia, either. I didn't have any apparent symptoms of an appendix problem, so all that was good, too. However, I did have some slight swelling of the vas deferens and epididymis, near my vasectomy site, which lead the GP to consider that I might have a slight infection in that area. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics and suggested that I see a urologist, just to be sure. I filled the Rx immediately and started taking the meds, then tried to get an appointment with another doc.

I was able to see a urologist almost immediately, so off we went to the other side of town to see that guy. He confirmed my GP's diagnosis, after using a little ultrasound wand to check that everything else was in order. In addition to the antibiotics, he recommended 600mg of ibuprofen three times a day for the next two weeks, along with hot compresses and more supportive clothing, until the infection is well under control.

This also means that I shouldn't be running for a week or so. Ugh! That's going to be tough. Even riding a bicycle could be painful in this situation! How am I going to get my exercise?

However, the following morning I felt like a different person. No pain to speak of, although the occasional twinge to let me know something is still going on, but otherwise I'm fine. It's as though yesterday never happened. Weird! Those antibiotics and the anti-inflamatories were really working.

I was able to use the recumbent stationary bike at the gym today with no problems, so I'll probably be able to use those for the rest of the week, until I can run again. Still, I'll be glad to get back out on the trails again. I have a 50k race on May 20th and I need to get out and run, so that I'll be somewhat prepared for it.

I have been able to run over this past weekend. Things have been feeling pretty good, so I think I'll be ok for the race. Of course, I just ran at lunch and now my right calf is sore. Ugh! I've iced that, so with any luck I'll be OK tomorrow. Hopefully, this won't affect my ride home -- I've ridden my bicycle to work twice this week, as part of Bike-to-work week. It's pretty good really. As a promotion for the company's commute alternatives, I get a free lunch and a free t-shirt, just for pledging to ride at least one day this week. Then, the gym are running a raffle for those who ride in. Each day you ride, you get an extra ticket for the raffle. Cool, eh?!

Tomorrow is the Race Walking seminar, then Thursday I have an appointment with the Endocrinologist about my thyroid, Friday I have an appointment with my chiropractor, Saturday is a 7 mile run with San Jose Fit and then Sunday is the 50k.

I think I'm doing pretty well, as the doc said to take it easy with the running for a week. I lasted 3 days. ;-)