March 31, 2013

Now That's More LIke It

This is the first taper week of my rescheduled SLO marathon training program after my unceremonious DNF in LA. 

It feels so much more like a taper week should than last time. I'm antsy today after yesterday's short, easy long run.  I'm Energetic.  Bouncy.  Yay!

M: Walk 1.5 to recover from Sunday's long run at the Oakland Running Festival.

T: End of quarter work insanity.  Onsite at clients, fire-fighting, and lucky E got to manage dinner while I kept working into the evening.

W: More end of quarter madness.  Finally decide that something is better than nothing and sneak out for a quick easy 1 mile at 10:10 and 0.66 walk back to the house.

Th: Track workout with F & D.  0.53 miles w/u (2X150 pickups); 3 X 600 (alternating 200 hard, 200 med, 200 hard); 3 minute jogging recovery interval between 600's. Splits:  (50, 1:15, 53); (50, 1:17, 54); (49, 1:27; 55) -- Yeah, I needed some serious recovery on that last 600 medium effort, and even with it, could only manage 55 on the last 200.  0.53 miles jogging c/d followed by 0.13 miles walking.  I was happy with this workout, but amused.  It took me 15 minutes to get to the end of the speedwork and totaled only 2.05 miles of running, including w/u and c/d.  I was careful not to push it even though it was such a short workout -- reminding myself that the turnover and hard cardio needs to be helpful and not hurtful this close to a marathon.  It was ideal for a taper week speed workout, for sure.  But funny to me, that a group of us made the effort to drive to the track just to get in less than 30 minutes of total work.  Also, on the last 600, I think F may have finished almost a minute before me.  She is *FAST*

F:  Rush to finish close of quarter work for many grumpy clients and realize I'll have to work over the weekend.  Grrr...  Decide that if I'm going to have to work over the weekend, I can stop working at 4 PM and build the new rotating compost bin as a strength workout.  No Joke.  2 hours of pushing, pulling, using a screw driver 'til both wrists were burning, holding steel parts in place, etc.  Oddly therapeutic and rewarding to have the finished product.

Sa:  Sleep in.  Head out for a nice easy 10-miler.  First 6 by effort, last 4 at target race effort (e.g. my breathing is a little labored, but I think I can do this for the full race).  Average pace on the last 4:  9:42; 9:32; 9:32: 9:34.  And with that, I think I've got a target race pace for SLO.  No pace groups, so I have to pick something I think I have a chance of sustaining on my own.  Potentially bad weather with 20+ mph winds and possible showers.  Hills.  Yeah, I'm happy to shoot for 9:30s as the fastest reasonable option I've got under these conditions.  Unlike LA, I'm committed to finish, rather than committed to having a perfect race day.  If it takes me 5 hours or longer, so be it.  I'm going to consider it a success to finish the marathon that runs in front of my family's ranch, regardless of how long it takes me.

Su: Walk 3 miles with visiting friends.  More work.  Looking forward to Monday's short/medium run and even considered moving it to today -- *this* is the feeling I associate with taper.  Finally.

Weekly total: 19.16 with quite a bit of walking.  I feel *very* rested and fresh.

March 27, 2013

Some Thoughts On the DOMA Arguments (Now With Curse Words)

So, I'm back with day 2 of SCOTUS marriage law comments. I was just going to take a break to read the DOMA arguments and be quiet, but I laughed at an early passage in the transcript and had to share:

JUSTICE SCALIA: Really, that's very peculiar. When -- when both parties to the case agree on what the law is? What, the -- just for fun, the district judge is -- is going to have a hearing?

Why did I laugh?  Because I pictured Scalia stopping himself from saying, "What the Fuck?"  I'm pretty sure that's what he was thinking.

It was pretty dry from there, so I made it halfway through the transcript before I hit this bit, and my jaw dropped:

JUSTICE KAGAN: Well, is what happened in 1996 -- and I'm going to quote from the House Report here -- is that "Congress decided to reflect an honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality." Is that what happened in 1996?

Guess what, kids?  That is actually what happened.  This is the justification in the House Report for DOMA.  In nineteen fucking ninety-six.

Sometimes I forget that I live in California, and the Bay Area, at that.  But when I read this statement, I was reminded that I was in Berkeley at that time.  Clearly, my daily experience was not remotely in line with the majority of the population the House thought they were representing. At the time, I assumed the proponents of DOMA would not have been so open with their judgment and rather would have tried to rely upon "the traditional institution of marriage" as a "bedrock" of our society that needs to be "preserved". 

In other news, it almost makes my brain explode to read this statement in today's culture of awareness of bullying.  I can't imagine what was considered acceptable bullying of homosexuals at that time if this type of language was considered completely reasonable justification for passing a law.

Intellectually, the best part was the awesome moment when Justice Kennedy creates the most unlikely bedfellows:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Well, I think -- I think it is a DOMA problem. The question is whether or not the Federal government, under our federalism scheme, has the authority to regulate marriage.

Bam.  See that?  That's the moment when the traditional 10th Amendment States' Rights advocates ("Federalists") just got lumped in with the same sex marriage crew.

Where are all the States' Righters, you ask? (You must not be from the South).

Hmmm... and what's the current status on state laws for same sex marriage:

  Same-sex marriage1
  Unions granting rights similar to marriage1,2
  Legislation granting limited/enumerated rights1
  Same-sex marriages performed elsewhere recognized1
  No specific prohibition or recognition of same-sex marriages or unions
  State statute bans same-sex marriage
  State constitution bans same-sex marriage2
  State constitution bans same-sex marriage and some or all other kinds of same-sex unions

1May include recent laws or court decisions which have created legal recognition of same-sex relationships, but which have not entered into effect yet.
2See the article on same-sex marriage in California for the status in California. .

 (Source: Wikipedia)

Looks like Iowa and Washington are the only states where that party would be any fun. 

Just when I thought I couldn't be surprised any more, right before the end of the transcript, I came upon this exchange.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case. 

MS. KAPLAN: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chief Justice, is that no other group in recent history has been subjected to popular referenda to take away rights that have already been given or exclude those rights, the way gay people have. And only two of those referenda have ever lost. One was in Arizona; it then passed a couple years later. One was in Minnesota where they already have a statute on the books that prohibits marriages between gay people. 

So I don't think -- and until 1990 gay people were not allowed to enter this country. So I don't think that the political power of gay people today could possibly be seen within that framework, and certainly is analogous -- I think gay people are far weaker than the women were at the time of Frontiero.

I did *not* know that.

Like yesterday, Wow.

March 26, 2013

Hollingsworth v. Perry Arguments

It's been a long time since I've posted anything purely about the law here. But it's time.

I had a busy day at work, which was a bummer, because I read tweets and facebook updates that let me know that many of my legal colleagues were totally focused on the arguments.  Unfortunately, for me, it's close to the end of quarter, so I had to work 'til after 6:30.

Finally, I took the time to read the transcript of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court today and I think it makes sense to summarize some of the issues the justices raised:

Heads up to all you married opposite sex couples who don't plan to (or can't) have kids:

"JUSTICE KAGAN: Mr. Cooper, could I just understand your argument. In reading the briefs, it seems as though your principal argument is that same-sex and opposite -- opposite-sex couples are not similarly situated because opposite-sex couples can procreate, same-sex couples cannot, and the State's principal interest in marriage is in regulating procreation. Is that basically correct?

MR. COOPER: I -- Your Honor, that's the essential thrust of our -- our position, yes."


" MR. COOPER: Yes, Your Honor. The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus, refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples."

Apparently, if you're like me (married and without plans to procreate), under the Prop 8 supporters arguments, the state has no more interest in protecting or recognizing your marriage than a same-sex couple one.  After all, you're just an adult couple...

Think about it.

You Know, :

Mr. Cooper: If, in fact, it is true, as the people of California believe that it still is true, that the natural procreative capacity of opposite-sex couplescontinues to pose vitally important benefits and risks to society, and that's why marriage itself is theinstitution that society has always used to regulate those heterosexual, procreative -- procreative relationships.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, I direct you to the discussion of Turner v. Safely on p. 27.

The Court -- the Court here emphasized that,among the incidents of marriage that are not destroyed by that -- at least that prison context, was the expectation of eventual consummation of the marriage and legitimation of -- of the children...


Thank goodness this looks like it'll be settled on standing grounds, because the substantive argument seems to be coming down to "But We Need To Avoid Bastards" and "Married Couples Exist Solely To Have Unprotected Sex and Produce Children." 


March 25, 2013

Whirlwind Week

Monday was a recovery day in LA.  Even though I didn't do the full marathon, I was very sore from the effort.  E and I did an easy 3 miles in Santa Monica on the beach path @ 10:23 pace and I walked another mile or so to get a pedicure.  I managed not to work at all, which was awesome, and very necessary.

Tuesday was the typical "now you pay for the day (and weekend) you took off from work" day.  D was visiting from NYC, so I stopped working when he arrived and we enjoyed a great meal and some wine to catch up.

Wednesday, the work chaos continued with an unscheduled on-site day at a client, additional client emergencies plus all the normal stuff, but I managed to fit in an easy 3 @ 10:19 pace, and afterwards, my legs finally started to feel normal.  S came over and we went out for Italian for dinner and then we stayed up late talking and catching up.

Thursday, F, D and I headed out for a weekly track day at Foothill College.  I'm very much enjoying this weekly work-out.  My legs were still a bit shot from the effort in LA, but I managed to partially complete the assigned ladder:

400 @ 1:49; 800 @ 4:03; 800 @ 4:11 (with 60 seconds walk/rest recovery -- the last 800 should have been a 1200, but I didn't have it in me).  3 minute walk/rest.  1000 @ 5:06; 800 @ 4:14; 400 @ 1:49. 1.1 slow jog cool down.  Not great, but not terrible, either.  I didn't want to push it too much given that I'd decided to incorporate the Oakland Running Festival into my long run on Sunday.

Thursday night, my mom came into town and we went out to Turkish food.

Friday, mom and I had a girls' day.  We walked to coffee and back, went to Santana Row, got massages, and had lunch.  After lunch, I worked a bit, then headed to the San Francisco Home and Garden show.  I must have been the only person there under the age of 50.  It was $10 to park and $15 for a half day ticket - quite pricey.  I thought it was cool to see all the entrants into the designed garden and back-yard competitions, and just generally loved walking around looking at all the plants, but I can't imagine most people would get $25 worth of enjoyment out of it.  I splurged on a huge rotating compost bin that will be delivered this week.  I'm super excited.

Saturday, I did an easy 2.5 with E @ 10:17.  I was exhausted and my legs were tired -- I was relieved when I remembered that I'd had an intense shiatsu massage the day before and the masseuse had done a great job of beating me up, so it made sense that my legs were without their usual pep.  I potted up about half of the tomatoes and I'm getting *very* excited for peak gardening season.  I met up with the Mandarin Ladies for brunch at F's, and then E and I headed over to some friends for dinner and to meet their 4 month old baby.  I got to bed a little later than planned, but we'd brought mediterranean food, so I'd eaten a decent healthy pre-race meal and E was happy to have the designated driver.
Sunday, I drove out to the Oakland Running Festival. My coach had told me to just repeat the last 3 weeks of the training schedule to prep for SLO, so I needed to do somewhere in the range of 14-18 miles this weekend. When Jen offered to register me at the expo, I was completely committed. I'd had a blast at this one last year so I was excited to return.

The weather prediction was a bit hot -- highs in the low 70s with clear bright sun.  The start for the half marathon is a double-edged sword of 9:15 AM.  It's late enough that I could sleep in and the finish is late enough that the beer tent actually seems like a reasonable idea.  But, it's also late enough that it could get quite hot on the course.  Sure enough, it did get hot.

Even so, my goals were pretty modest and I hit them, more or less.  I just wanted to get in a good few miles as a warm-up, do the first 10K at target race pace, and then run the remainder of the race at a good effort without stopping.  I did 2.5 around Lake Merrit, met up with Jen, ran to my car and ditched the long sleeve shirt and compression socks, pinned on my number, hit the porta-potties and got into the corral.

In the corral, Jen introduced me to many of her fellow running bloggers and friends.  It was fun to meet so many new people.  My watch was synched with the satellites from my warm-up and the others seemed to be having trouble getting signals, so I offered to be a pacer 'til their watches caught signals.  However, after we went through the start, I slipped to the left, where it was more open, and assumed they'd follow.  I looked back after about 1/10 mile and they were nowhere to be found... Oops.  Sorry ladies! 

The first mile is decent downhill and in the shade, so running by effort put me at an easy 8:42.  From there, I executed roughly according to plan and hit the 10K at a 9:11 average pace.  During the first few miles, K said hi, and we ran together for a few minutes.  She's doing the full marathon in SLO, so it'll be nice to have a friendly face there.  She was too speedy for me, though, so I let her go.  Then Jen caught up to me, but same story, she was taking a downhill at 8:27 pace and I was feeling lazy, so I let her go as well.

After the 10K, I tried to maintain a good effort and didn't let myself walk, except through the aid stations, where I dumped water on my head.  I drank my electrolyte drink from my water bottle and took 2 Gus.

I finished in 2:09:20, for an average pace of 9:52.  The Garmin claims it was 13.33 in 2:09:24 for an average pace of 9:43.  Either way, it surprised me a bit, as the "run at an even effort" miles were much slower than I expected.  But, the goal wasn't to race this one.  It was to get in a good training run, and I'm glad it was.  The heat kept climbing, and I think it would have been a difficult one to try to race, even if my legs weren't beat up from last week's effort in LA.  The best part was the lack of coughing compared to last week.

After the race, I met up with Jen and her SO.  We had our beers from the beer tent, congratulated her Running For a Better Oakland buddy on his finish, and went out to delicious (if delayed) Mexican food with two of their friends.  The post-race walk was about 1 mile or so, which felt great.  Total mileage for the long run according to the Garmin was 16.8 (including the walking ), which I'll take as a decent last long run before SLO.  Total weekly mileage was 32 and now it's time to taper!

After Oakland, I picked E up at the Caltrain station in SF and we went to visit yet another set of friends and their new baby and then we came home.  The planned dinner was leftovers, but our neighbor dropped off Korean food as a gift and it was *very* much appreciated.

In hindsight, this was a crazy week.  In addition to all the normal life stuff, we hosted 3 dinners with guests, I made four separate visits to friends' homes plus all the running and race-related socializing and travel from LA and Oakland.  I'm exhausted, and looking forward to a day of "just work" today.

March 22, 2013

Audible Addiction and Device Annoyances

So, I don't own a single Apple device.  Mainly, because I hate buying things, and I think they are too expensive.  But, also, partially, because I don't love the closed system approach to technology that they take and I have enough technology in my life to ignore them, for the most part.

Anyways, this resulted in me using a Sansa Clip for the first several years that I ran with auditory input.  Small.  Cheap.  Lightweight.  I loved it for music and language lessons, both Spanish Pimsleur and Mandarin ChinesePod MP3s.

But, then, I decided I wanted to try running with Audible audiobooks.

So, E bought me a Philips GoGear Vibe for Christmas a couple of years ago and all has been well ever since.

In fact, I've developed a bit of an addiction to audiobooks.  After I've scheduled or completed my language lessons for the day (if I didn't set this rule, I'd never finish my language lessons) I listen to audiobooks when I run.  I listen to them when I garden.  I listen to them when I drive, walk, do dishes, laundry...

After the LA DNF, I pulled my device out of my pocket and listened to the end of Lost In Translation while waiting for E.

That book (and likely the water I'd poured over my head and sweat) were the end of its electronics.  I spent the next several days fighting with it to get it to stop cycling through the menus or actually respond to the interface.  Finally, I declared defeat and ordered a replacement from Best 4 Best, an Amazon Fulfillment Partner.

I ordered 1-day shipping.  I'd developed an audiobooks problem, you see.  (Also, I use my MP3 player to do Mandarin lesson review).  Best 4 Best didn't bother to ship my device for 3 days.  I was underwhelmed, but tried to be reasonable.  Their estimate was arrival today, and the device did arrive today.

Unfortunately, despite pristine packaging, it was completely non-functional.  After I failed to get it to do anything interesting with the cables and Windows, E confirmed that it wasn't even "enumerating" via Linux.

So, yeah.  That didn't work.  I printed a return label, packaged it up, and convinced E to head with me to Fry's.

They carried exactly one device that was listed as a supported MP3 player on The RCA TH1814. It came with a coupon for a free audible book. I tried to redeem it, but I was informed it was only available for 1st time audible users. I tried to transfer a file from my library to the RCA. It was informed the RCA only supported *enhanced* audible files. I then tried to transfer the *enhanced* file from my Audible library and supposedly it worked. Windows explorer saw it there, in all of its glory, in the Audible folder. But the minimalist interface only allowed me to access the songs in the "Music" folder.

No problem, I thought, I'll just copy it to the "Music" folder.  Yeah, that didn't work either.  The Manual informs me that despite the coupon in the packaging, "This Device does not support Audible files."

So, tomorrow, I'll be gardening with my audiobook playing from my Samsung Galaxy SIII via the Audible Android App.  And after that?  Well, if you have any recommendations, I'd love 'em.  Otherwise, I'll hold my breathe that Best 4 Best comes back to me with a functional solution in the form of a new (or refurbished but functional) GoGear Vibe.

March 18, 2013

LA -- My First Marathon DNF

After my last long run before the LA Marathon, I promised myself that I would have a plan the night before the race, and that I'd do my best to execute it.

As promised, I prepared a plan.  To tell the truth, it was a cowardly plan.  But, I'm a planner...

Between the worst cold I'd had in years 3 weeks before the race killing several key workouts, the complete absence of the standard taper rest feeling I associate with being ready to race, and the yellow haze E & I observed against the mountains on our descent into LAX, I was feeling *very* apprehensive about my performance on race day.

But then, after checking in to our hotel with my race number, things were looking up.   The weather report showed that the week's heat wave had broken and it appeared unlikely that I'd have to run in anything warmer than 62 or 63F.

Due to the predicted warmer temps, I hadn't even brought my St. Patrick's day 4-leaf-clover compression socks -- I assumed I'd have to run in ankle socks.  Given the good weather news, though, I just laid out my black compression socks (that I'd worn all day Saturday) and assumed all would be well.  I didn't want to be cold...

The plan looked like this:

1.  Saturday: After a short 2 mile shake-out run, a flight, and picking up my number at the expo, rest and relax on the bed for a true pre-race prep day.  Stay off my feet, read, wear compression socks, eat a healthy dinner in the hotel, pound water and tea incessantly, prepare a throw-away gatorade bottle with duct tape and a water bottle with a drinking attachment, watch a movie.  (I've never *actually* done the full pre-marathon easy day, so this was a big treat.  So decadently relaxing.  I'll definitely try to repeat this experience again.  It's a nice reward for a full marathon training cycle.)

2.  Saturday: Lay out all the race gear, pin the number on, prep coffee, sunscreen, power bars, etc. so I could sleep as long as possible, get dressed quickly and quietly in minimal light and walk to the shuttles.  (This amount of pre-race logistics commitment was impressively effective.  18 minutes from wake-up call to exiting the hotel, post coffee, including at least 2 minutes in the hotel after leaving the room.)

3.  Sunday: Get to the start.  Run the first 10K with the 4-hour pace group.  Assess.  If 9:09 is difficult (as it is likely to be, given the recommendations from my coaches), scale back to 9:19 or 9:30 pace and try to maintain for the remainder of the race.  If it's hard enough to maintain a target pace below 9:30  by the half, be prepared to run hard as long as I can for a good solid long run at race pace and walk off the course and call for E to come pick me up.

I told you it was a cowardly plan.

But, hear me out.  I haven't had a good, true, hard marathon race effort since 2011.  In 2012, I had a great time run-hiking the Fairbanks Equinox Marathon with Arvay, but it wasn't a good race effort by any measure. And then 2012 CIM weather plus life destroyed my commitment to a race effort there and I just did a nice easy long run while puddle stomping and laughing at the weather.

I've trained hard this cycle.  And I want to reap the benefits.  Also, I was already registered for the San Luis Obispo Half Marathon.  My dad's family is from there.  The family ranch is *on* the full marathon course.  But, it's hilly.  There's no crowd support.  It's not a course I'd choose for a performance marathon, by any means.  But if LA was going to beat me up and deny me a chance at a PR or improvement over CIM in 2011, I'd rather postpone the full marathon, and at least enjoy the pleasure of running past my family's ranch in exchange for the beating on my body and the satisfaction of just finishing a non-performance oriented marathon in my dad's hometown.

Sunday, I woke, dressed and got on the shuttle easily and quickly.  The only thing I noticed is that despite the dark and 5:05 AM time, I was warm.  Hmmm...

I ate my powerbars on the shuttle bus and chatted with a Texan who informed me that the highs in Dallas are in the 80s with humidity right now, so he wasn't worried about the LA weather (lucky dog).

Upon arrival, I headed into the Dodgers Stadium and waited in line for the restroom.  I did this loop 3 times.  In hindsight, I was on my feet, without a break, from 5:30 - 7 AM.  Suboptimal.

I headed to my corral (C: sub 5 hour) and upon showing my C-number was waived through by the guards as they kept everyone else who did not want to be in the unseeded corral D out.  Word to the wise -- this is a *big* race (24,000).  If you have the race results to get a seeded number, do so.

I found the 4 hour pace group and sat down.  The elite women started.  Time passed.  They announced that the elite men and then general corrals would be starting soon.

Everyone started peeing on the sidelines.  I'm serious.  I've never seen anything like this.  Men were just openly turning their back to the corral and pissing against the mesh over the gates of the corral.  Women were squatting (many with friends blocking, but some without).  The worst part was, many people had already discarded their warm clothes on the sides of the corrals.  In most races, the local Salvation Army or GoodWill gets the discarded clothing from a race.  In this case, I'm so sorry for whoever collects these clothes.  Such a waste.

Eventually, we started.  I stuck behind the 4-hour pace group leader and decided to avoid looking at my watch for a while.  After all, to stick with him for 10K meant my watch was useless anyways, right?

I had been warned that Mile 1 had a steep uphill, so I was prepared.  It wasn't that bad, actually. My watch beeped and informed me we'd hit the first mile at 8:57.  I was a little surprised, given the pacer's statement that his goal was to hit consistent 9:09 miles regardless of terrain or crowds, but I didn't think much of it.

Mile 2 was downhill and the pacer was clearly taking advantage of it.  I felt good, so I stuck with him.  Mile 2 beeped 8:22.  Oh.  Dear.  No time to stress about that, though, my self-made water bottle with duct tape handle was ripping. 

Mile 3 was also downhill.  I stuck with the pacer for a bit and finally, when I had to throw the broken water bottle to the side (7/8 full of gatorade), peeled off to slow down, realizing that my plan of sticking with the pace group for the 10K was not going to work.  9:09/mile consistent pace did not mean the same thing to Joe the pacer as it did to me.  Even with my slow down, I hit mile 3 at 8:44.

Mile 4 I just tried to stay with the crowd and run by effort.   9:01.  Now that was more like it.  There were even some uphills in this one, so I felt very good about my decision to leave the pace group and trust myself.  Water station  was great.

Mile 5, however, was a different story.  Steep uphill, then an equally steep drop, then back up.  9:41.  Hmmm...  Water/electrolyte station was still great.

Mile 6, 100+ ft. incline over 0.5 miles, then a drop.  Trying to run by effort, I heard the beep and saw the depressing report of closing this mile at a 10:08 pace.  Water/electrolyte station was great.

The race results say I crossed the 10K pad at 57:53 or a 9:19 pace.  Oh, boy.  I was in trouble.  That fast aggressive start and nothing to show for it?  Did I mention I was hot?  I'd worn a long sleeve shirt to keep warm and had made the mistake of leaving it on at the start.  I'd removed it during mile 2 or 3, but, even so, I'd heated up much more than I'd planned and the direct sun plus higher than expected temps were not making me happy.

After the 10K, I seriously started considering how long I'd need to run to make this a good strong training run for SLO.  I took a gu and committed to keeping the pace below 9:30 and ticked off 2 miles: 9:25; 9:21.  Unfortunately, despite my multiple trips to the bathrooms, it became apparent that I'd need a porta-potty stop.  I saw my opening in the next mile and took it (another 1:49 delay).

Back on the road after the stop, I closed out the mile at a 9:14/mile pace; then did another at 9:35.

I started to cough.  Intermittently.  But definitely proof that yet another thing was not right with me.  Ever since my water bottle handle had ripped, I'd been taking either water or electrolyte drinks or both at every aid station.  At the most recent one, however, I had trouble drinking because I was coughing and having some decent asthmatic symptoms. Awesome.

Did I mention it was hot?  I was dumping water on my head at every water station -- Thankful for the lessons I'd learned in Phoenix.  But also annoyed at the compression socks -- why had I double-guessed my original decision to race in ankle socks?   Oh well, I doubled them down to expose some additional skin.  No idea what the physiological effects of double compression are -- I didn't notice any except the additional coolness from the lack of coverage.  

The next few miles were a struggle with increasing cough frequency:  9:34; 9:47; 10:12; 10:21.  Finally, I decided to call it.  I gave myself 16 miles as a deadline and did my best to push it to that point.  I took a gu and made a point to note that the temperature started to decrease as we hit the fog.  We hit a downhill mile and I pulled out a 9:12 for mile 15 and then a 9:54 for mile 16.

And then I was done.  The policemen were nice enough to let me call E.  I walked to Wilshire and Doheny.  He picked me up.  And we went on to have a lovely day of brunch with my cousin, a dinner date, and drinks with friends.

No, this did not play out according to plan.  But I like to think that my flexibility to do what made sense for my body will pay off in the near future in the form of a successful and pleasantly finished full marathon in my dad's hometown.     

March 12, 2013

A Great Day

First thing in the AM -- I woke, dressed, had my coffee and headed out for the last hard run before the race.

The scheduled track workout looked, to me, like way too much to be attempting during the same week as a marathon. But, my coaches are the professionals.  So, I stopped questioning their knowledge and solicited friends.  They were nice enough to agree to join me and we headed to a local Junior College to do what was on schedule.

Wow!  This workout was *just* what the doctor ordered in terms of confidence building.

Wake and have coffee.  15-20 minutes warm-up easy run to the track (uphill).

4X1000 -- splits: 5:22; 5:17; 5:20; 5:14 (walked recovery of 200m per interval)

4X200 -- splits: 45; 45; 44; 43 (walked recovery of 200m per interval)

15 minutes easy run back (downhill).  Then another few minutes walking.

Why is this such a great workout?

Well, for starters, I could *talk* through the 1000's.  That's right.  Talking.  Easily.  Not breathing hard at all.  At paces that are 30-45 seconds/mile faster than target race pace.  Brilliant.  All of a sudden, the marathon pace looks and feels like a cakewalk.  I'll weigh in after the fact, of course, but much to my surprise, the workout that I was worried may be too tiring actually was quite easy and raised my confidence to a level that's never happened before a marathon.

And the 200m pick-ups?  Nothing like running at a sub 6 minute mile pace (even if only for 1/8 of a mile) to convince you that you are in better shape than you've been in quite some time.  In other news, I *sincerely* enjoyed telling F to hit 40s on her 200m intervals.  Sweet, fast F.  Yup.  She did it, no problem.  5:40 mile pace on all 4 intervals -- lady is *FAST*.  Should be interesting to see how training for a half while she's training for a full at SFM treats me. I expect my fitness will be challenged and pushed. And I look forward to it.

The great AM track workout alone would be enough for a great day.   But I also get to add that I made it home in time for a good yogurt, blackberry, milk, banana smoothie.  Oh, and I had several productive work calls, a great on-site visit with a client, and, E had agreed that I should have a steak dinner to get my iron stores up before the race. (I assure you, I had to twist his arm heavily to get him to go to Dittmer's while I toiled away on legal issues related to his Company.  Okay, not really.)

Upon arrival at home after the long work day, I followed the awesomely perfect recipe we've concocted over the years and made glorious filet mignons for me, E and D (425F, garlic clove embedded, butter layered, salt and pepper), plus a side salad and boiled miniature artichokes (6/$1 at the local farmer's market on Sunday!  Deal of the century!).

At first bite of the perfectly cooked filets, the boys declared me a genius. I, of course, politely agreed.

To prove the point, I took the steak/butter/garlic/salt/pepper drippings, added onions, and made millet with the leftover artichoke water.  We now have at least 2 pounds of delicious beefy-artichoky millet for side dishes. Like the title says, it was a great day.  And the millet will prove this going forward...

March 11, 2013

LA Marathon Week -1

I accomplished my number 1 goal from last week.   My cold finally left me.  I can sleep through the night and I'm not really coughing much at all.   I'm probably at about 90%.

I feel like another one might be coming on, which would be a serious bummer, but there's nothing I can do except be sure I get tons of liquids this week, rest, and hope for the best.

This week's workouts were just okay.

M:  Rest. Walk 1.24 miles.  Final recovery day from the cold.

T:  3.85 miles in 37:41 for an average pace of 9:48/mile.  Additional 2.2 miles walking and talking on the phone.

W:  Speedwork on the treadmill at 1%.  15 minutes w/u, 2 miles @ 8:34 pace; 6 minutes jog; 1 attempt at a 400 at 7:30 pace -- bailed after 0.15 miles, walked 2 minutes to recover and restarted the intervals at a slower pace.  Take 2: 4X400 @ 7:47 with 0.20 walking recovery; 3 minutes jogging cooldown.  Very difficult effort.  My gluteos maximus was *very* sore for 2 days.

Th: 3 miles recovery @ 10:28 pace.

F:   Easy Cross -- 20 minutes rowing; 20 minutes recumbant bike.

Sa:  Last long run before the race.  The schedule called for 10-12 with the last 4-6 at race pace.  F agreed to do this run with me and pull me through the fast miles.  My AM went according to plan, which was a good comfort for following the same approach on race day.  We drove to the local trailhead and started with a nice easy 6 miles at a 9:48 pace.  After a quick gu stop, we *almost* hit the target splits of 9:09 on the last 5 miles:  9:08; 9:19; 9:04; 9:13; 9:14.  On the last mile, I could feel myself really starting to struggle so I let F know I'd need to stop at 11 instead of 12.  Even with the dropped mile, this run is the most I've ever run in a long run the weekend before a race.

Su: Easy 3.03 mile recovery run (2.5 with E).  30 minutes.

Total mileage for the week: 31.54.

Unfortunately, I don't feel like I tapered at all this week.  Which is weird, since the mileage is low compared to the weekly average I'd been keeping this training cycle.  Last week's unintended taper week with 4 straight days off running hard meant I'd already dropped my mileage below this week's scheduled level.  The antsy energetic feeling that I associate with taper week has yet to hit me.  Perhaps it'll come this week?

I've got 3 short runs this week, plus a speed session.  This will be more mileage the week of the race than I've ever done before.  But, perhaps I've over-tapered in the past?  Only one way to find out.

Essentially, I'm in a blah state.  I'm definitely more fit than I've been in a long time, but I'm also not quite as fit as I'd hoped to be.  I reached out to McMillan Running and they confirmed my suspicions.  While the training plan was written for me to shoot for a 4 hour marathon, I didn't hit all the workouts, and last week's sickness was a fairly decent setback at an important time in the buildup.

They recommended that I shoot for something more conservative like 4:05 or 4:10.  I know they know their stuff.  This is why I paid them.  Even so, I was disappointed to read their email.  In particular, I'm bummed because there isn't a pace group at 4:05 or 4:10 for the LA Marathon.  So, if I take their advice (which I probably should do), I'll have go out alone and just keep myself on pace the whole time.  Man, I was really looking forward to hanging with the 4h pace group as long as I could.

Also, after I sent the email to McMillan, I realized that the fast miles in my last long run were on gravel and dirt. I'm guessing I could have hit all of the target splits if we'd been on the road.   

Part of me is on the fence.  Obviously, getting to the half with the 4h pace group is totally doable.  I could just go out with them and do my best to hang on as long as I can.  This will, of course, result in one of two scenarios:  a) I totally blow up and the last part of the race is sucky and slow and painful; or b) I surprise myself (and the folks at McMillan).  I'm guessing option a) is much more likely.

I definitely have a few options to puzzle through.  No matter what, I will have a race plan on Saturday night and will do my best to execute it Sunday.

March 6, 2013

Mandarin Studies and China Trip

Well, Yikes. It's happening. For reals. China for the first time since 1994 for me, and ever, for E.

My high-end goal of 100 Mandarin lessons before we left?  Well, I'm at 11 + a 2-day viewing of a Mandarin movie set in the mainland.  Only 68 days left.  So, basically, 1.5 lessons a day and I'll be easily in the clear.  Right.  I hope I can make that happen.

In other news, baring external oddities, I have all the details solidified.  Flights, hotels, everything.

Enough to print out everything and fill out the visa applications and try to schedule time to do the rush drop off myself, personally (fail #1 due to too late arrival at the consulate, really hoping #2 will work without trouble).

Oh, except, wait a minute -- today, I got a call from a frantic woman from Delta.  It is worth noting that the call came only after E got multiple calls and assured them that I was authorized to make all decisions for both of us.  This is particularly impressive given that the trip was booked through my account, on my card. [[Insert standard feminist rant here -- seriously -- I'm annoyed, but too tired to draft anything useful.  Eventually, due to E's protestations, they believed him and I was granted phone privileges to modify the entirety of the trip I'd originally booked without his additional consent.  How Modern!  Once he'd told them to fuck off and deal with me, of course, they started calling me every 15 minutes.  Let it not be said that the privileges of power do not come with strings...]].

So, China Eastern had canceled one of the important connecting flights of our trip and they wanted to rebook us.  Only the lay-over we were to have went from 2+ hours in Shanghai to 6+ hours.  Ummm.....have I mentioned that E is not a good flyer?  I can sleep anywhere.  E, not so much.  So, I exercised my wife-given powers and made an executive decision.  We are now staying the night in Shanghai after landing (to get some non-plane-sleep) before the 2 hour last flight leg to Beijing.  (I would like to weigh in here and say that booking China Eastern through Delta was a stroke of brilliance because my Gold status on Delta is, no doubt, the only reason we got the call and I suspect we otherwise would have either (i) gotten an email I likely wouldn't have noticed, because all commercial emails (even travel, sadly) go to my spam account; or (ii) more likely, just had to deal with it at check-in. Yuck!)

Anyways.  With 68 days left, I'm still gallantly trying to beat the 100 lesson challenge.  I'm at 11/100 today.  So with 68 days, it's really not even 1.5 each day.  And, as a matter of pride, I think I'm going to do my best to do this one!

March 3, 2013

LA Marathon Week -2

I may have been a bit too celebratory about last week's training.

By Sunday evening, I had a full-fledged sore throat and the beginnings of a cold. Monday, I started coughing. It was enough to convince me to skip Bikram in an attempt to rest and (hopefully) recover.

Tuesday, I hopefully headed out for a run only to find that 11:00 mile pace was a struggle.  I ran only 1.55 miles and walked another full mile to call it for the day.  I told myself I'd do the hard speedwork on Wednesday or Thursday based on how I felt. 

I took Wednesday off completely (and coughed through the night, waking poor E on multiple occasions).

Thursday, I had obligations in SF, so I walked in the city and then back home from Caltrain.  I also fell asleep on Caltrain.  At 3 PM.  After at least 9 hours of interrupted cough-heavy sleep.  Then I hacked and coughed my way through the night.

So, yeah, the speedwork for the week was officially written off.

Friday, finally, I felt like I might be on the mend.  I headed out for a test run of 3 miles.  It was okay.  Average pace 10:34, but I didn't feel like I was getting worse.

Saturday, I'd scheduled a half marathon race with Brazen Racing as part of my long run. The training scheduled called for 14-18 with the last 6-8 miles at target race pace.  After Friday's test run, I decided I could do 15 (an easy 2ish warm-up and the half marathon), but that I'd take it easy and only try to do the last 5 at race pace, and, then, only if I felt okay.  L drove me to the race (thanks, L!  Your 1:51 first half-marathon is *crazy* impressive).

After we arrived, I headed out at an easy clip for the warm-up and I made it back to the start with 1.88 miles w/u done at an average pace of 10:48.  After the start, I ran by effort and was shocked to see 9:10 as the pace for my first easy mile.  Interesting.  The rest of the race went well -- I confirmed that I'm in better shape than I thought, particularly given the cold, and also, I confirmed that my target race pace is *very* difficult to maintain when I am tired.   My target was to execute the run plan and finish between 2:05 and 2:10.  I came in at 2:07, so that made me happy.  Even with the cold, I'm doing all right, it would appear.

Of course, yet again, the importance of making certain I do not have any gastrointestinal issues on race day became apparent.  Because of the cold, I hadn't really paid much attention to my food the night before.  I half-suspected the run would be a write-off.  Instead, as scheduled, after 8 reasonably paced miles (all 10:00/mile or below), I picked up the pace to my target race pace and started passing people.  I did so easily and consistently until mile 10, at which point my gastro discomfort started.  Finally, at mile 11, I took a 2m56s much-needed bathroom break.  This meant that the rest of the run I ran at race pace and passed many of the people I'd passed earlier.

At the finish chute, a woman I'd passed around mile 12.6 (and also around mile 9.5 or so) and to whom I'd said, "good job" in the final passing decided to try to sprint past me.  First, please -- I had tons more energy in the tank -- I hadn't wanted to go hard because I was sick and, also, because I wanted the training run to be a training run that helped build me up, not a race that depleted me.  But when she started to come near (I heard her footsteps) I bounded away quickly.  Then, I heard her slip and fall.  I turned to look just as the announcer announced her fall to the crowd and everyone gasped.  Poor thing.  I waited at the finish to high-five her and confirm she was okay.  Ordinarily, I'm annoyed at people who try to kick to pass in the chute at a pace that's 2 minutes faster than their race pace (talk about asking for a pulled hamstring!), but not this woman -- I felt bad for her.  This exchange must have been very embarrassing for her, and I felt nothing but empathy.

Today, I closed out the week with a nice easy 5 mile recovery run (2.5 with E) at a 10:21 average pace with a 0.68 mile walking cool down.

And there you have it: thanks to the cold it was an unintentional early taper week totaling 30.06 miles (including the walking), and just one long training run left before the race.

My number one goal for next week is to stay healthy and get rid of this cold.  Wish me luck.