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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.


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.

Rain! January 22, 2010

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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!

Mojo Risin’ December 22, 2009

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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.

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.

A Day of Rest December 3, 2009

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I took a day of rest today as my hip/butt area was giving me major problems. At dinner last night, I felt the whole area just tighten up in a hard knot—very unpleasant. I did some stretching and massage therapy and it was better this morning, but any sort of rotation really pinched the area.

While it hurts in my glute, I actually feel like it’s coming from my hamstring, which makes sense since after the 14 mile run last weekend, my hamstring was really tight. I did some research and I think it’s piriformis syndrome.

According to Wikipedia:

Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or otherwise irritated by the piriformis muscle causing pain, tingling and numbness in the buttocks and along the path of the sciatic nerve descending down the lower thigh and into the leg.

“Neuromuscular”? “Sciatic”? Huh? It hurts like hell is what it is!

While normal everyday movement doesn’t hurt, any rotation of the leg does, as does standing on the leg and bending forward from the hip. So the hamstring is connected to the piriformis, the piriformis is connected to the… Exactly.

So it’s another day of rest for me.

I looked up some stretches by Googling “pinch butt stretch” and found some pretty interesting results. Luckily, I found this video on YouTube from Texafornia1. I did the first two of these exercises and it helped tremendously.

Thanks, Texafornia1.

In any case, more stretching, more massage, and more rest. That’s about all I can do. I don’t want to re-injure myself more seriously. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. For realz.

Training — To The Hill! December 2, 2009

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Distance: 5.98 miles
Time: 45:51
Pace: 7:40

Hills: 3.52 miles

I set out to do my first hill workout in over two weeks and I felt good. The new shoes are making a difference, though I’m still in the “breaking in” period. I got a slight foot cramp after my 2 mile warmup and stretched it out before starting my hill repeats. This happened with my first pair of Adrenaline’s, too—it took awhile to get fully accustomed to the shoes.

Other than that, I felt good. Had some tightness in my hip (a lingering injury from last weekend’s 14 mile run) but the long period of rest has helped my right calf heal and there wasn’t any residual pain. I think I may take tomorrow and Friday off before doing 12 miles on Saturday with LA Roadrunners.

Training — New Shoes December 1, 2009

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Distance: 2.05 miles
Time: 19:14
Pace: 9:23 mile

I definitely needed to do a short run yesterday. After Sunday’s 14 mile run, I was feeling the hurt. My left hamstring and right calf were sore and both my knees were creaky. Guess that would be par for the course after a long run like that. But, I’m trying to get used to running while I’m still sore, so I mustered the energy to do a 2 mile run yesterday.

I also broke out my new pair of shoes—it was definitely time. During my longer runs, I could feel that the support in my old shoes wasn’t like it used to be. I also attribute some of my running pain to the worn-down sole of the old pair. Plus, I estimate that I have almost 500 miles on them, which is usually enough to warrant a change. According to this Sports Medicine article on About.com, between 350-550 miles is enough:

It is recommended that you replace running shoes between 350-550 miles depending on your running style, body weight, and the surface on which you run. Lighter runners can get closer to the upper end of the recommendation while heavier runners are harder on shoes and should consider replacement shoes closer to 350 miles.

Unfortunately, though, unveiling my new shoes isn’t as exciting as it seems because they’re actually the exact same shoe as my old ones. Booooooring.

New, same ol’ shoes.

But I love my old Brooks’ Adrenaline GTS 9, so I was actually looking to buy the same shoe. For one, they were comfortable and fit my flat feet pretty well. I didn’t want to risk buying a different pair of expensive running shoes and having them be uncomfortable or different in anyway. At this stage of the training (4 months away from the marathon), I didn’t feel like I had the time to experiment with a different shoe. Also, I lucked out and found the new pair at REI for 30% off the normal price, so that helped sway my decision.

I’ll probably still use my older shoes for 6-10 mile runs until I fully break in my new pair. I’ve heard recommendations, too, that it’s good to rotate shoes. However, my old pair are definitely near the retirement stage and will soon be relegated to the “Use During International Backpacking” part of my closet, along with my old No Fear t-shirts and worn blue jeans.

Honestly, though, I just need to suck it up and finally get the Vibram Five Finger.

Training — Turkey Trots November 30, 2009

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or happy belated Thanksgiving, actually. I hope you had a good one.

I apologize for not posting while I was away, but I was in relaxation mode as we were visiting our parents in Northern California. However, I did make it a point to do my runs—including my 14-miler—in between eating, napping, and watching football.

November 29, 2009
Distance: 14.22 miles
Time: 121:12
Pace: 8:31 mile

November 26, 2009
Distance: 4.1 miles
Time: 41:21
Pace: 10:05 mile

November 25, 2009
Distance: 4.29 miles
Time: 34:39
Pace: 8:05 mile

Loving the Central Valley colors—something Los Angeles lacks.




Now that we’re back into the swing of things, I’ll be posting regularly. Stay tuned and full steam ahead!

Training — Running With The Palms November 24, 2009

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Distance: 8.13 miles
Time: 67:41
Pace: 8:20 mile

Headed out early to get an 8 mile run in today. It always takes me awhile to get going on Tuesdays after a day off and today was no different. I was tired and lethargic for the first mile and my legs were a still a bit tight. After I hit about mile 3, though, I was smooth sailing.

I need to figure out how to prevent this, especially come marathon day. Since we’ll have 2-3 days off before the race, I need to somehow stay loose and energized. Though I’m sure the burst of adrenaline at the starting line will help.

I ran down Georgina Ave. in Santa Monica again today because I wanted to gaze upon the amazing homes. What do I have to do to afford a place like these homes? Cuz I’ll do it.

Training — Georgina Ave. November 18, 2009

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Distance: 8.13 miles
Time: 70:43
Pace: 8:42 mile

Had to get in a recovery run today, even though I think my legs are still pretty sore from last Saturday’s run in San Francisco. I’m having an issue with my right hamstring and stretching doesn’t seem to help it. So I *think* it may be a minor strain and I may take off the next two days before my 13-mile run on Saturday.

As for today’s route, I took my usual path down San Vicente Blvd. to the beach, but decided to take a different path on the return, heading up Georgina Ave. It was nice to mix it up and I’m glad I did. It was a wide street without much traffic and ended up being a nice quiet run through an absolutely gorgeous neighborhood. I’ll bring my camera next time.