Eight Weeks Till Portland!

This week marks the halfway point for those of us training for the upcoming Portland Marathon (those of us on a 16 week training schedule anyway)

Just to give myself a little extra preparation, I actually added a 5 week "pre-training" schedule where I increased my weekly overall mileage and my weekly long run.

So, whether you are doing training using the Furman method, working with Team in Training or just plain hardcore (four 20+ mile runs? Ouch), buckle up - you're halfway there! The next 6 weeks are going to require proper nutrition, rest and endurance. After that comes a much-needed taper and then race day!

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Santa Cruz Half Marathon 2007

On Sunday, I ran the Santa Cruz Half Marathon (4/22/2007). Some of you know that this is one of my two favorite halfs, the other being the Big Sur Monterey Half.



It started raining Saturday night and we were all planning for a wet race. The rain quit about 4am; unfortunately, the wind started gusting to about 20 mph. When the starting gun went off at 7:20AM (we were supposed to start at 7!), the rain and wind has ceased. The 2500 runners were instead treated to a beautiful clear day. Some of the things I was lucky to encounter: a group of seals 200 yards offshore from the lighthouse; the scent of damp eucalyptus past Natural Bridges; the colorful zigzag of running jerseys on the cliffs of Wilder Ranch; the incredible views of Santa Cruz and Monterey while returning south on West Cliff Drive.



All in all, a great day with a great finish at Cowell's Beach. Can't wait for next year.




Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:



Organization - Twenty minute delay at the start, however, the course was clearly marked and staffed. Grade: B+ (would have been an 'A' without the delay)

Course - Doesn't get better than this. Grade: A+

Aid-stations - Well staffed, but no Gatorade, just water this year. Grade: B

Swag - Short-sleeve, cotton shirt that probably won't survive more than a few trips through the wash. Grade: B-


Cowell's Beach


Looking North on West Cliff Drive


Tags: marathon, running, santa cruz half

LA Marathon - Race Day Transportation Troubles

If you are planning on running the L.A. Marathon this year, you might want to weigh in on this issue:

Urgent Message for all L.A. Marathon Participants and Alumni

When we first announced our new point-to-point course last summer, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke to the significance of transporting participants for free on the Metro on race day. Yesterday, L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, in her capacity as MTA Chair, said in a committee meeting that marathoners should not be provided with free race day transportation and withdrew the agenda item from next week’s MTA board meeting. Mayor Villaraigosa plans to take this matter directly to the MTA board meeting on February 22.



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New Las Vegas Marathon 2006

Yesterday was the New Las Vegas Marathon. A group of us flew to Vegas on Saturday afternoon, staying at the sponsor hotel, Mandalay Bay.

There were supposed to be four runners in the group, 2 full and 2 half marathoners. The week before the race, myself and the other half marathoner had decided to drop out due to injury.

We checked into our room and headed off to the Expo. I registered/paid for the race this past August so I figured I'd pick up my race packet and grab a shirt. I was checking out a few of the vendors when one of the marathoners in my group suggested I should buy a pair of shorts and a shirt and run. We talked about it for a while and I decided I'd do a modified run/walk half. I had already paid my entry fee... Luckily, I had worn my running shoes to Vegas.

Sunday morning came early. The race started at 6am, so we were all up at 4:30. After a small breakfast and a ton of stretching, we made our way to the start. With 15,000 runners, the corrals were packed at 5:30. The forecast of early AM rain didn't come true, but the wind did. The temperature was around 45 degrees (F) with a SSE wind of 20 mph. Pretty chilly! The race started right at 6:10 with the half and full marathon sharing the course for the first 10k, along the Strip. My plan was to run 2 miles with one of the marathoners in my group and then walk a mile, run a mile, etc. I wasn't interested in risking injury so I figured I'd walk about half the run. Running down the Strip was great- with no traffic, it was easy to take in all the sights. Before I knew it, we were somehow at mile 6 (I had forgotten to walk) where the course splits. I walked a bit and then continued running. Overall, I walked 3 miles and ran 10 - finishing at 2:20. Not my best race, but considering the fact that I wasn't going to even run, I was pumped.

Overall, here's how I'd rate the run:

Organization -The race was well staffed, but the markers were a train wreck. There was actually a mile marker at Mile 9.5! Additionally,the entertainment along the run was not as billed; very sparse. Grade: D

Course - First 10k was great - water show at the Bellagio, volcanoes exploding etc. 10k to finish was u-g-l-y. Grade: C-

Aid-stations -Aid stations were great. They were numerous with good water and Gatorade.Grade: A

Swag: Short-sleeve cotton t-shirt and a Finishers medal (I'd give the medal an 'A'). Grade: B


The Vegas Race Director sent an email the other day, apologizing for some aspects of the race:


While the response to this year’s New Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon has been overwhelmingly positive, we have also heard from a number of participants with concerns about the placement and visibility of mile markers, as well as a shortage of food in the post race food and fluid area. I want you to know that we hear you.

As I noted in my race notes, the mile markers were a mess. I didn't mention that food situation, but it was pretty bad. At the race finish (for the Marathoners no less) the food consisted of: bananas, water and frozen smoothies (the temperature was in the low 40's). In all the half and full marathons I have participated in, I have not seen such a weak spread of food


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Stress Fracture Recovery

Last February, I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon and ended up with a femoral stress fracture in my right leg. I was able to slowly start running again in late July, working my way up to a 12 mile run in October.

I thought I would summarize rules I followed for other runners who have a similar injury:

1. Take it easy - a femoral stress fracture is a big deal. Keep pushing and you'll end up with a full fracture.

2. Don't OD on ibuprofen - initially, I took gobs of ibuprofen to reduce the pain and inflammation. After a month or so, I stopped taking it completely as I was starting to walk a bit and didn't want to mask the pain/over do it.

3. Come back s-l-o-w-l-y - The first few months, I tried to get out and walk a few times a week, working my way up to a mile. I would stretch my quads quite a bit before and after, being careful to monitor for any pain on the interior quad/groin. If it became painful, I would stop immediately.

4. Choose non-impact cardio - Once you can walk a mile pain free, try different types of low-impact cardio (the treadmill doesn't count; too much impact). I tried a bike and the elliptical (another option is swimming and/or aqua jogging) - the bike didn't work as there was too much compression. On the other hand, the elliptical turned out to be perfect as I could get a great workout, vary the type of workout (hills, flat, etc), read (I would look forward to Friday, the day the new Economist would show up) and watch sports (I saw both the Tour De France and the World Cup).

5. Boost your calcium/vitamin D intake - even though my doctor told me it wouldn't help any, I took calcium/vitamin D supplements on a regular basis.

6. Try the treadmill every once in a while - hop on the treadmill now and again and try to do a fast walk (~12 or 13 minute mile pace). If the treadmill has sidebars, use them to support some of your weight. If there is any pain, stop and try again in a few weeks. Once you can do a mile without pain, slowly increase your pace. I would do 3 or 4 miles on the elliptical and then get on the treadmill for 5 minutes. As my pace increased, I slowly increased my time on the treadmill and decreased my time on the elliptical.

7. Run on the treadmill - Once you can do a slow jog on the treadmill, increase the distance, working your way up to 3 miles. Along the way, increase your pace until it matches your normal (non-race) pace. Continue periodically running on the treadmill for about a month.

8. Run outside - Woohoo! Finally, back outside. Your first run should be on something soft (dirt preferably). Make sure your shoes aren't worn out. Run a mile at a bit slower than your normal pace (even if it feels great, don't go farther). Monitor the pain factor pre and post-run. Check it again the next day when you wake up. If you are free of pain, run again in a few days and increase your mileage. Continue like this, slowly building up your mileage. Remember to NOT increase your mileage by more than 10%/week.

9. Return to pre-injury form - Now that you can run again, slowly work your way back to where you were before. Remember to not over do it - the bone in your leg might be healed, but the rest of your muscles need to regain their strength.



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Palo Alto Moonlight Run 2006

On Friday night, I ran the annual Palo Alto Moonlight Run. This was my first 10k since going down with a femoral stress fracture. Man, did it feel great.

The race started promptly at 8:15pm at the softball fields on Geng Road in Palo Alto - temperature was in the low 60's. I'd guesstimate there were approximately 500 runners in the 10k. The race is run under the full moon with very little additional lighting (trail map).

The course runs along a frontage road (hello 101!) and then onto the Bay. I've run this trail a million times, but very rarely in the dark. It is uneven and has potholes, so participants have to run with care.

Not coming close to a PR (I did take 6 months off after all), I finished at 58:37.

Overall, here's how I'd rate the run:

Organization - Well organized/staffed, clearly marked, even in the dark parts. Grade: A

Course - Scenic during daylight hours with plenty of wildlife. Night runs not quite as good, with the exception of the moon reflecting on the water. Grade: B

Aid-stations - Two aid stations, at Mile 1 and Mile 5. Mile 1 water straight out of a garden hose (blech!). Grade: B-

Swag: Traditional long-sleeve cotton shirt. I usually prefer dri-fit, but I wear this shirt around town like a badge of honor :-)


Looks like I was crushed by an 18 year old, with the winning time of 36:30




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Running Update

Quick update on my femoral stress fracture and running.

It has been just over 5 months since I was injured running the SF Half. Posts on the recovery have been slim to none, as there wasn't much to report.

Good news - I have run 2 miles straight twice now, with no pain during or after! Five months ago I couldn't walk a mile. To be able to knock out a few miles is an incredible, exhilarating feeling.

I will do a separate post about the specifics of my recovery so that others can benefit from my ... er ... experience.

Napa Marathon - Attending But Not Running

The Napa Marathon is this Sunday. I signed up to run with 4 other folks (all Relay veterans!) and put together an aggressive (but not insane) 16 week training schedule.

Things were going very well up to week 13 (when I hit a new PR at the SF Half). After the SF Half, I had an odd soreness emanating from the TFL on my right leg. Strangely, I couldn't stand on just my right leg without pain. My regular session at SMI helped a bit, but things didn't get better after a week.

My massage therapist suggested I head over to PAMF and see someone in Sports Medicine. Fortunately, I got in to see the highly recommended Dr. King. After 10 minutes of "can you move your leg this way? Does that hurt?" and a few questions, he told me he suspected a femoral stress fracture. A subsequent bone scan bore this out. Bottomline is that I am out of commision for 8 weeks to 6 months - it varies widely. A major factor is rest :-(

Instead of running this Sunday, I'll be on the sidelines, cheering on my wife and friends. Chris will be completing her first marathon and feeling a sense of true accomplishment that most people will never know.

San Francisco Half Marathon 2006

On Sunday, I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon (ensuring I would be able to eat that extra nachos plate during the Super Bowl :-))

The race started at 8am, with 7700 runners (largest turnout to date) in Golden Gate Park. The start and finish are in different spots, so the race organizers run buses from the finish to the start. We arrived around 6:30, queued up for a bus and arrived at the start around 7am. The Park can be fairly chilly in the early AM and yesterday was no exception. However, by race time the temperature was a nice 55 degrees or so.

After the starting gun fired, we took a 3 mile loop out of the Park and along the Panhandle (Oak and Fell streets). We re-entered the Park, running almost due West to Ocean (Great Highway).

In past years, the hardest part of this race for me has been the out and back on Ocean. This part of the course is approximately 5 miles and I swear it is uphill both ways. (There always seems to be a headwind too) Fortunately, Ocean Beach is picturesque; the swells yesterday were beautiful and the sky was clear.

The last two miles of the run take you back into the Park to the finish line. Miles 12.5 - 13 are uphill, so even though the finish line is close, a little work is required.

All that training for the Napa Marathon must have paid off as I set a personal PR (1:48), blowing away my previous PR (1:56).

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization - The race was very well organized - clearly marked and staffed. Grade: A

Course - Monterey and Santa Cruz are more scenic, but still fantastic. Grade: A+

Aid-stations - Well staffed and the Gatorade wasn't overpowering. Grade: A

Swag - Long-sleeve, cotton shirt. Grade: B (what, no dri-fit??)