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Updates + Sedona, AZ + Rest March 4, 2010

Posted by Richard Lowe in Training.
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Wow it’s been a really, really long time since I last posted. Life has gotten really hectic these past couple of weeks (in a good way) and I just haven’t had time to write*. Additionally, I’ve had a lingering hamstring injury that has kept me from running frequently and I’ve concentrated on healing before the Big Day instead of pushing myself and suffering an injury that may keep me out of the race.

However, I do want to share my last run, which was in Sedona, AZ of all places. My wife and I were invited by my friend who had his short film Dockweiler accepted to the Sedona Film Festival. He had a free room and two extra guest passes, so we figured why not?

Distance: 4.04 miles
Time: 38:34
Pace: 9:33 mile

It was a fairly tough run and though I’d been taking it easy, I didn’t think a 4 miler should be that hard. However, it wasn’t until later that I found out Sedona lies at 4500 feet. Much different than the sea level elevation of Santa Monica that I’ve been training in.

The weekend was a blast. I got to run in a new location, we were able to see some great films, and we spent some quality time with good friends. We’d been to Sedona once before, but clouds like these are special. Sedona really is one of the prettiest places I’ve seen in the US and if you ever get a chance, I suggest you go.

Sedona really is gorgeous. These photos don’t do it justice.

So the marathon is only 17 days away! Crazy, right? My 27 weeks of training are nearing the end. I’m taking the time to rest, stretch, and get ready mentally for the race. As if posts haven’t been sporadic enough, they may become even rarer due to a lack of interesting things to write about and my life getting increasingly busier.

To my loyal readers (if you’re out there), I apologize! Many thanks to those who have continued to visit my site during these sparse weeks. And, if you don’t hear from me, I’d love to hear from you. Just send me an email at richardonthego(at)gmail.com.


LA Roadrunners: Dodger Stadium! January 31, 2010

Posted by Richard Lowe in LA Roadrunners.
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Yesterday was a field trip for us Roadrunners: we got to run at Dodger Stadium! I had to start the morning off extra early to give myself time to drive the extra distance, but it was a gorgeous morning, as far as mornings go.

Interstate 10, 5:50am.

Downtown LA.

Dodger Stadium off ramp.

The full moon was absolutely gorgeous.

Since this year’s marathon starts at Dodger Stadium, we got a sneak peek at the first mile or so of the race. The marathon begins as a lap around the stadium then heads out Elysian Park Dr. toward Sunset Blvd.

However, that route is only a mile, so with the Roadrunners, we added a few more loops and the LA Marathon 5K route to the training for a total of 6.4 miles.

Distance: 6.4 miles
Time: 53:07
Pace: 8:18 mile

Around Dodger Stadium.

More loops.

Hitting up Elysian Park.

A beautiful route.

Rod Dixon cheers us on.

The final hill.

Of course, 6.4 miles wasn’t enough! I could tell that everyone in our group wanted to do more. After all, our scheduled runs during the week are between 7-8 miles! A Saturday run of 6.4 miles wasn’t enough. So my friend and I decided to log six more miles around the stadium.

Distance: 6 miles
Time: 52:30
Pace: 8:45 mile

The route around the stadium has long, steep inclines, which are good for hill training. And it was a lot of fun to mix up the running paths. As pretty as the beach is, it’s nice to run a different part of LA.

Also, it was really beneficial to experience the beginning of the marathon. I think race day will be intimidating enough as it is—not having another thing to be nervous about is good.

The best part of yesterday’s run, though, was that they opened Dodger Stadium after the run! We got to go on the field and stretch. Definitely one of the most memorable stretching sessions I’ve been a part of.

All in all, it was a great training day. Dodger Stadium, hill training, 12+ miles, great running routes, felt fantastic… What more could I say?

Well, I guess there’s one thing I should say. Despite all this love for Dodger Stadium…

Go Giants!

Born and raised in Northern California!

My Body’s A Zombie January 26, 2010

Posted by Richard Lowe in Thoughts & Musings.
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I’ve taken three days off, for various reasons. The day after my 20 mile run, I was still pretty sore. (Not to mention how sore I was the day of my 20 mile run.) So I had a scheduled recovery, but figured it would be more beneficial to rest. Monday was another rest day. I’ve decided that at this point, I’ve built up a good base for endurance and strength—it’s not like running 6 miles at 9/min pace will help me that much come marathon day. However, a day of rest to prevent injury would.

Today was busy with work (not to mention it started raining again) and though I wish I could have run, I just didn’t have the time. Luckily, I woke up early to get in a workout of stretching, crunches, and push ups.

Tomorrow I plan on being back. I’ll probably do a light 6 or 8 miles.

Also: I wanted to share my new running anthem. It’s called “My Body’s A Zombie For You” by Dead Man’s Bones. Ryan Gosling is actually the front man for this band. The song came on while I was listening to the awesome KEXP “Music That Matters” podcast (more on that in the future) and I decided that running a marathon is very similar to becoming zombified. For one, when I run I’ve learned to basically put my body on autopilot and let my mind wander. Very zombi-like, if you ask me. Additionally, after a 20 mile run, my body’s so sore that I pretty much feel like a zombie, as well as walk like one, staggering around the house. Anyway, without trying to make zombies more trendy than they already are, I’m sharing this song with you. Enjoy!

Fantastic Flapjacks January 23, 2010

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You know what makes running a 20 mile route easier? Knowing delicious pancakes are waiting for you at home.

I have the best wife.

And you know what makes these pancakes better? Gluten-free, wheat-free. Oh, and chocolate chips. You better believe it.

Um, yes please.

20 Miles: Better Than Legos January 23, 2010

Posted by Richard Lowe in LA Roadrunners.
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Do you remember when you were a kid and you built your first Lego set? The exhilaration and excitement of accomplishment you felt? Well, today was so much better than that.

The dreaded and ominous 20 mile run was on today’s LA Roadrunner schedule. For months it has sat there on my calendar, staring me down, hanging like a guillotine ready to drop.

Since I’ve returned from Japan, my whole goal has been to not skip the first 20-miler. That gave me two weeks to get back into game shape and I made sure not to miss a single day of running. Additionally, I was mentally trying to prepare myself. “I can do this, I can do this.” But, in the back of my mind, I wasn’t so sure. This whole week I had been wondering whether or not I was ready. My longest run in over six weeks was only 14.5 miles and I had missed the Roadrunner runs of 16, 17, 18 and 19. Could I manage 20?

The answer is yes. And then my realization was this: nothing can prepare you for a 20+ mile run mentally. You just have to go out and do it.

Distance: 20.2 miles
Time: 173:23
Pace: 8:35 mile

It’s hard to see any detail in the route on this map, but even at this distance, you can see it was a daunting course. We started at Venice Boardwalk, went up through Santa Monica, through Rustic Canyon, back down the beach, then into Marina Del Rey. And it was absolutely gorgeous: post-rain blue skies with white clouds, damp and cool roads, misty air, and a dewy forest through Rustic Canyon.

I’m really bummed that I didn’t take my camera with me. I was figured it’d be too much to worry about on my first 20-miler and it was true: I wouldn’t have been able to focus on my running. But, I do want to share images of the run so I got creative and took some screen grabs from Google Maps and hit up Flickr. It’s hodgepodge, but it works.

Rustic Canyon from the Google Cam.

Despite it’s hilly terrain, I could definitely find myself running through Rustic Canyon again.

After that portion of the course, we shot out onto the Pacific Coast Highway and crossed over to the beach to complete the middle miles 7-16. We went back through Venice and into Marina Del Rey and I found that part to be more challenging than the hills of Rustic Canyon. It was mainly due to the compact nature of the marina that made it so difficult. With 30+ runners trying to cram onto the narrow walkways and alleys of the boat docks, it’s hard to zone out because you’re constantly worried about hitting a fellow runner.

See the narrow docks? Marina Del Rey from Das Bobby via Flickr.

I was feeling fine pretty much all the way until mile 18. Before this run, the my longest run ever was 15.xx miles so I was pretty happy with my legs at 18. But as we headed back for the final two miles, It Got Tough. My legs were so tired and tight. I was losing speed, even though my endurance was fine. I was keeping with the group, but it was a struggle. As I looked around, I could tell that the entire group was feeling the same thing. A few runners were tripping and one even fell—common occurrences with tired legs and uneven roads. Needless to say, we were exhausted but not nearly done.

Our pace leader kept encouraging us, yelling out the remaining distances and some morale boosters. “1.7 miles to go! You can do it!” “1.2 miles to go! You’ve got this!” That really helped mentally. I kept reminding myself that, “Hey, I’ve run 1.2 miles before! This is easy!” and surprisingly, that little mental trick did help. I was able to find some guts that I didn’t know I had remaining and eek out the final two miles, despite my legs. When our pace leader announced we had hit 20 miles, we all cheered, and when we finally crossed the finish line, we were all relieved.

There’s nothing quite like achieving something you never thought you could do, while also setting a personal standard. If you had asked me five months ago if I thought I could hang with a 20 mile run, I’d have said no. And even with five months of training, I still woke up this morning thinking to myself, “Well, if you can only do 17 or 18, that’s fine. Don’t push yourself.” But now, I can say I did it. I ran 20.2 miles and survived.

Now if only I can find a way to add 6 more miles, I’ll be set.

Full Steam Ahead!

Rain! January 22, 2010

Posted by Richard Lowe in Training.
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Yeah…it’s a bit wet.

A rain jacket wouldn’t have even helped.

There was no way I was going to run today. As fortune would have it, it was a scheduled day off.

However, I was able to get a run in yesterday just before the storm returned.

Distance: 4.22 miles
Time: 34:35
Pace: 8:12 mile

I’ve been feeling good these past couple days, which is good news since we’ve got our first scheduled 20-miler tomorrow!

I’m Back!!! January 20, 2010

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What a belated post! Happy new year, everyone. I’m back from the holidays and it’s taken me awhile to get back into the swing of things. I was hoping to post earlier, but better late than never, I guess.

As for my running these past four weeks, I took two weeks off while my wife and I traveled to Japan. Well, I was actually able to get in a five mile run on the Kamo River one morning before we headed off to roam the streets of Kyoto. The river is actually very accessible to runners and bikers and I was one of many runners out there that morning. It was pretty exhilarating to run “internationally.” I never thought any of my vacations would include my running shoes.

Kamo River, Kyoto, Japan

The Kamo River is quite beautiful, actually, as is the rest of Kyoto. Kyoto’s main draw are it’s many temples and being there over the New Year was a unique experience. All the temples have celebrations to ring in the New Year and we had a great time being a part of the festivities.

I’ll have more photos of Japan on my other website up shortly and I’ll post a link when I do.

As for running once I got back, it took me about a week to get back to where I was before I left. Taking two weeks off didn’t ruin everything I had built up, though my first couples runs were harder than I remembered. It wasn’t necessarily my endurance that had gone, it was more my muscles. They were screaming, “We just took two weeks off! What are you doing to us!” I had lost about ten seconds off my pace and my muscles were sore everyday after every run, even the 4 miler. How sad!

But, I’m finally back into game shape. It feels good. With the marathon two months away, I’m getting excited and I feel ready.

Here are my runs from the past two weeks. It took me about a week to get my pace back:

1/10/10 – 4.29 miles @ 8:38 pace, 37:03
1/11/10 – 6.26 miles @ 8:43 pace, 54:37
1/12/10 – 4.29 miles @ 8:34 pace, 36:47
1/13/10 – Elliptical x-train workout, 45:00
1/14/10 – 8.31 miles @ 8:35 pace, 71:22
1/15/10 – Off day
1/16/10 – 14.37 miles @ 8:27 pace, 121:28
1/17/09 – 4.06 miles @ 9:51 pace, 40:00 (recovery)
1/18/10 – Elliptical x-train workout, 20:00
1/19/10 – 6.33 miles @ 8:02 pace, 50:50
1/20/10 – 5.22 miles @ 8:26 pace, 44:00

Big In Japan December 26, 2009

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I’m taking off for two weeks to Japan tomorrow, so my posts will be on hold. We’re pretty excited for our trip—which spans Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Takayama—even though it’s supposed to be freezing cold. But that’s okay: a warm bowl of ramen will surely be close by!

I doubt I’ll be able to post, even though I’m considering finding some running routes. Tokyo seems pretty easy to run, but the other cities not so much.

Luckily, I’ve run pretty consistently here while visiting my parents and logged runs of 5.15 miles, 10.92 miles, and 5.15 miles all around the 8 minute pace. I’m pretty happy with the results and I’m hoping I don’t lose too much if I’m unable to get in a run.

In any case, I’ll post again in the new year. Happy new year to everyone and best wishes for 2010!

Modesto canals.

This route is electric!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! December 24, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Thoughts & Musings.
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Happy holidays to everyone out there!

Mojo Risin’ December 22, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Training.
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I haven’t lost it. I am not going crazy. After Sunday’s run at the Lafayette Reservoir in the Bay Area, I needed something to boost my confidence. That run—and it’s hills—certainly got the best of me.

The day after Lafayette we returned to Modesto and I was determined to get out and run. I needed to get my mojo back. Despite the solitary, non-competitive nature of training, I still enjoy the challenge of recording my times. I use it as motivation to track my progress, while also adding an element of competition. So, in my weird and obsessive way, I felt that Lafayette had “beaten” me and I wanted to get back to it.

I picked a route that I had done back in November. It was a safe, flat trail that I was familiar with and all I needed was a decent time to feel good about my running again Luckily, I hit my goal and, using my disappointment from Lafayette as fuel, made a good time that I’m happy with.

Distance: 5.15 miles
Time: 41:00
Pace: 7:58 mile

So the run went well and I’ve got my confidence back. I can take solace in the fact that Lafayette was bad because of the unending, terrible hills. One day, I’m going to go back to Lafayette and run all over that trail with an iron foot. Hi-yah!

(Much to the chagrin of my friend Karen, who has been pushing me to run in the rain, it started pouring five minutes after I returned from the run. Like I tweeted to Karen, I’m not avoiding the rain, I promise!)

The Horrible Hills of Lafayette Reservoir December 21, 2009

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Yikes. It was just One Of Those Days.

After last week’s great 15 mile run, it was only fitting to follow it up with an extremely challenging and not-so-fun one. That’s just how karma works, right?

I came up to visit my parents for the holidays and we happened to be in the Bay Area for my grandfather’s 81st birthday. I hadn’t had a chance to run the previous three days so I was desperate to get back on the road. However, being semi-unfamiliar with the area and needing a long run, I wanted a looping route that I could mindlessly breeze through. Well, I got the looping route but it was no route I could mindlessly breeze through.


You can’t tell from this Google Maps image but for a (beginner) runner, this trail is hell. For someone out for a stroll, or perhaps a lap or two of it’s 2.7 rolling green hills, it’s fantastic.

Don’t be deceived.

Even though the trail is 2.7 miles, there are about 15 hills of varying degrees. Admittedly, I wasn’t ready for it, even though I thought I could do it. What compounded the problem is running the trail multiple times meant running the hills multiple times. And the hills got the best of me.

The flatter hills were doable, but the longer, steeper ones really did a number on my body. Additionally, downhill paths, I find, are much more difficult than uphill, especially the ones with a longer grade. As someone who hasn’t done too much hill work, I could feel that it takes a whole new set of muscles to control a downhill stride. It’s so easy to accidentally overextend your stride when running downhill, not to mention the extra impact caused by gravity on your feet. It really takes some effort to control. For me, the only challenge with running uphill is muscle strength. Downhill requires practice.

I needed to do 16 miles, which meant 6 loops. I only got to 13 miles, but it was no farther than loop 3 that I was hurting. My hips and knees on both my legs were aching and hurting. I had never felt anything like it. At one point, I tried to simply loop one mile intervals but even within that one mile the hills were unbearable at that point. So I cut my run short.

These ducks were laughing at me, I’m sure of it.

In the end, I’m thankful for the run. It was a great training run, especially considering there will be hills during the marathon. But it was not fun. However, it does help mentally to know that I’ve done a run with massive, unconquerable hills. I know it will be useful come race day. Looking back I’m glad I did it, but at the time, it was terrible.

Distance: 13 miles
Time: 122:58
Pace: 9:27 mile

The words “hill” and “hell” are separated by only one letter… Think about that!

In the holiday spirit.

Even GU Chomps couldn’t save me.

Gorgeous day, gorgeous scenery, hellish run.

Foam Roller, I Love You December 16, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Thoughts & Musings.
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So much for that last post. Turns out the foam roller is the best thing that’s happened to me since my Under Armour leggings.

I’ll just say that my first time on the Foam Roller was enlightening. It did hurt like hell as I was rolling around on the floor, but I was able to hit my leg’s Sweet Spot (read: Most Painful Spot Ever) and really target the tight areas. I didn’t cry as Yasmin had suggested I might, though I most definitely made audible pain sounds like, “Ow Kelly Clarkson!” and “Como se llama!”

What was so enlightening about the Foam Roller, then? Well, as soon as I was finished, I felt like a whole new person. The left leg—the one that was giving me the most trouble—was loose and limber. Any pinching or pain in my glute was nearly gone, about 90% better. My left thigh felt light instead of heavy as a rock. It was wonderful.

Even one day after using it, the results have remained. I woke up feeling refreshed and my leg was still loose and pain-free. Even as the day has gone on, I’ve been without the constant nagging in my butt. (There’s a wife joke here; however, I won’t make it.)

I’m so excited by the prospect of what the Foam Roller will do for me as a runner. It’s always nice to come across new things or pieces of knowledge that change your whole outlook on something. It keeps life interesting and teaches you that no matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn. The prospect of knowledge is exhilarating!

Here’s a YouTube video of one of the exercises I did yesterday. Just watching this video makes me hurt!

Get Ready For Pain! December 14, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Thoughts & Musings.
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It’s been recommended to me for awhile now, but I just got around to picking up a foam roller. Yasmin over at Pretty Little Steps uses one and both my physical therapists friends told me to get one, first for my IT band and now for my piriformis. With all these upper leg and hip issues arising, I figured it was time to pony up.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I can already tell it’s going to hurt. That thing just looks intimidating. (But look at how much fun the guy on the box is having!)

A Good Day December 13, 2009

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Today was a Richard day. Everything was turning up Richard. It was magnificent. I love these kinds of days.

Let me break it down for you:

First: the weather. LA’s been in the midst of a massive, non-stop, absolutely terrifying storm. It’s true—don’t believe what the others say. It’s far worst than you can imagine. I even had to break out my galoshes. Anyway, I haven’t wanted been able to run because of the downpour, but I needed to get in my long run for the week. So yesterday I had decided that I had pushed it far enough: Sunday was the day, rain or shine, to run 15 miles. Well, I woke up this morning and the sun was out and the sky was blue. It was a brisk 60 degrees. It was perfect.

Second: my awesome new Under Armour leggings. I knew that since I’d be visiting my parents over the holidays, I needed to get some warmer wear. I didn’t want a fleece or any sort of insulating pants—I get warm enough while I run. I just wanted something to protect me from the wind. Leggings are perfect because they’re tight and don’t move as much as track pants might. Plus, they add a layer of warmth for the initial miles, but help keep me cool during the final ones. They’re fantastic in every sense—except looks.

Third: I got a fuel belt. I picked up the Nathan Trail Mix belt; it has room for two 10-ounce bottles and a pouch to hold stuff. It also has a clip, rather than velcro to keep it secure. Let’s cut to the chase: it’s great.

(No photos of it on me, because the fuel belt with the leggings is—wow.)

Fourth: I tried running fuel for the first time. I picked up some Clif Bar goop (real name: Clif Bar Shot Energy Gel). It was the chocolate flavor. I was expecting the worst—after all my friend Kekona tried GU’s version and said it was terrible—but this was great. Well, not great, but good enough. I was happily surprised. It tasted like fudge that you would put on a sundae, and who doesn’t like that?

Fifth: I ran 15 miles and felt fine.

Distance: 15.14 miles
Time: 125:47
Pace: 8:18 mile

Sixth: the totem pole during the run. It’s good luck.

Seventh: lunch. As part of it, I had a giant chocolate chip cookie from Whole Foods. ‘Nuff said.

Close enough. Photo from esthereggy via Flickr.

Eight: dinner. Had pho at my favorite Westside pho joint, Pho 99, with good friends.

Again, close enough. Photo from aJ GAZMEN ツ GucciBeaR [?] via Flickr.

So yeah. It was a good day.

More photos from the run:

At Olympic & Barrington.

Heading South.

This was interesting…

How bizarre. (click for video.)


…and it’s signage.

The Venice Boardwalk.

Where we gather for Roadrunners.

December in Los Angeles. Yeah, we’re lucky.

A little early morning beach volleyball.

You may recognize this from previous routes. It’s always nice to have a familiar path on a long run.

The Brentwood Farmer’s Market.

A great day.

Who’ll Stop The Rain? December 10, 2009

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Distance: 7.27 miles
Time: 62:50
Pace: 8:39 mile

On the eve of another Southern California rain storm, I was able to get out and run. Since the forecast is for rain through the weekend, it should make for an interesting next couple of days, though my friend Karen said that I should “just suck it up and run in the rain, you pansy.” (Okay, she didn’t really use those exact words.) However, as a counterpoint, I told her she’s coming with me next chance I get to run in the rain. She called my bluff and agreed. Dang.

Anyhow, I need to get some cold-weather and rain gear, anyway. So maybe this will help motivate me to drop the bucks and do so. I feel another “Hidden Costs of Running” post coming…

Also, in honor of the rain, I wanted to post a song* from one of my favorite bands of all time: Creedance Clearwater Revival. They’re asking the same question I am.

*There are tons of potential “rain” songs out there. Missy Elliot’s “I Can’t Stand The Rain” and Prince’s “Purple Rain” come to mind. CCR was far more appropriate, with Missy’s coming in a close second.