Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spring Fling Planned!

This past year, I ran three marathons during the spring over 6 weeks - Antarctica, LA and an ultra in Seattle.  I had so much fun that I decided to do that again.

So, on March 18, 2012, I'll be running the LA Marathon for the 4th time overall and 3rd time on the Stadium to the Sea course.  The course winds from Dodger Stadium, east to downtown and then west through Echo Park, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, The VA Center, Brentwood and Santa Monica finishing above the Pacific Ocean.  I cannot recommend this course more highly; I would even say traveling to LA to run it makes sense.  I plan to run it every year, and I'm happy that I like my hometown race.

A discount code (HLAM2012) saves $20 off the normal price between now and until noon this Thursday, July 21.  Head to www.lamarathon.com for more details.  Once again, I'll be co-chairing the efforts of The Alliance of Children's Rights to raise money as an official local charity of the event.  Please consider running this or the 5K the day before if you are local here in LA or even planning a spring break trip to the Coast.  (I'm running both races of course.)

Then, 5 weeks later, you can find me slamming through grand ole London, England in the 2012 Virgin London Marathon.  So, April 22, I'll take off on a 26.2 mile adventure across a city I lived near for a year and happen to still enjoy visiting.  Thanks to meeting the head of the organization on a plane last year, I'll be supporting Rays of Sunshine which is like Make-a-Wish.  I have specific fund raising goals and my British friends should be putting my email on their spam list to avoid my pestering pleas for donations.  The 2012 Summer Olympic Games will be in London, and this event promises to be special.  In fact, the official 26.2 mile distance of all marathons was established at the 1908 Olympic Games.  Previously, the distance ranged from 24 to 28 miles.

And 2 weeks further on, I return to Fort Collins, Colorado to run in their racing event on May 6, 2012.  After 3 half-marathons in the past 5 years, I'm taking on the full marathon this time.  Registration is open for this too at the 5k, 10k half and full distances.  My cousins live in Fort Collins, and the amazing course winds out of Poudre Canyon before finishing in Old Town, Fort Collins.

I can't wait!

(Oh yeah, I am running at least two marathons this fall, so I better keep training.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Light Traffic Equals a Nice Long Run

Well Carmaggedon appears to be over and done. You may read about the closure of the 405 in Los Angeles all over the net. For those not exposed to our freeway craziness, you would therefore not know that CalTrans has embarked on a multiyear plan to widen 10 miles of very busy interstate. The ultimate goals include a carpool lane and better on and off ramps. A bridge in the Sepulveda Pass needed to be demolished (well half of it), and for safety, the workers shut a huge stretch connecting West LA and the San Fernando Valley. As I stated, google the whole thing for more info.

With warnings of mass traffic snarls from the 500k drivers who would be diverted this weekend, superstars and politicians urged Angelenos to stay at home. And golly, most everyone did. But they said nothing about runners, so how could I pass up a chance to see the 405 completely empty? Here are my images from this morning's run. (And traffic was so light that I decided to run from the 405 to the beach along famed hilly and twisty Sunset Blvd. Overall, 20.7 miles today. Way fun!)

Looking North - Not a car in sight

Yep, empty to the South too

Looking north from the Sunset Blvd. overpass. One car is heading south (the ramps were open part of the way south) and some crew cars (stopped) on the north side).

A biker was taking pictures too, and he snapped this one of me, again looking north from Sunset Blvd.

Next week, I'll run back to the same spots and post some normal traffic photos.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Run 1. Sleep 0. I Win.

July 14th, I spent the day in the charming city of Quebec Canada. No, this had nothing to do with Bastille Day nor an attempt to practice my lingua Française [sic]. Bastille Day happens in France, not French Canada, and while I did try some phrases in French, most people responded to me in English.

Quebec at night - phone by Djof

Work required my visit to the only walled city in the Americas north of Mexico. Situated on the western bank of the St. Laurence River, Quebec features an old quarter high on a hill at the edge of the Plains of Abraham and guarding Cap-Diamant (Cape Diamond). The city holds the honor of the first permanent settlement in the non-Spanish Americas having been founded with the purpose of long term occupation as compared to the more short term goals of older towns like Jamestown. This strategic location effectively protected French and British Canada from attack. (The city traded hands a number of times.) Quebec saw a number of battles in the Seven Years War and later Colonial American troops tried to take the city from the British during the American War of Independence. The British won that battle, and Canada remained loyal to London. (Additionally, circumnavigator James Cook made a name for himself mapping the various rivers around the city.) The town survived all of these trials, and in 2008, it celebrated its 400th anniversary. Then as now, work brought me to the city during the celebrations which were quite impressive.

During that 2008 visit, our local development studio head, Dominique, and I ran a half-marathon from the eastern shore of the river (Levis), over the Quebec Bridge and then back down the Quebec riverside into the main part of the city. For Dee, it was his first race at this distance; for me it was the first when I ran with a friend. We both really enjoyed the experience. Dee competed again in 2009 and significantly improved his time.

I remembered how much I liked running along the river, so I packed my Asics for this trip and planned to hit the pavement to run part of the race's course.

But I nearly missed out on a glorious morning and fantastic jaunt. For those of you out there that might think about skipping a run, please know that this occurs more often with me than my reputation might suggest.

Arriving late Wednesday night, I accidentally messed up setting my alarm; I had left it on Taipei time - exactly 12 hours later than Eastern Daylight Time. Oops. At 8:30 AM, plans called for breakfast with my team before we visited our developer. So, to be safe, I really wanted to arise by 5:30 AM. (2:30 AM in California. Yikes.) Even without the alarm, I awoke at 5:50. Not bad for no auditory summons. Still plenty of time to run 13 miles.

But I felt dead tired.

"I can run in California on Friday," I told myself. "I really need my sleep," I intoned in my head. The runner in me countered, "But you laid out your running stuff and schlepped your shoes all the way across the continent. And your GPS watch; don't forget you brought that too and made sure to charge it overnight." So, I did what any sane person would do to shut up this pre-caffeine debate. I negotiated. With myself.

The deal? I got to go back to sleep, but if after 10 minutes snoozing eluded me, then out of bed I would bound. I set my alarm (correctly) for 7:30 so that I wouldn't miss breakfast and closed my eyes.

Ten minutes later, still conscious, I stumbled off the mattress.

Ten minutes after that, and my shoes seemingly laced themselves. (I'm not even sure how I got ready so quickly.)

Ten minutes more and I was bounding down Rue St. Joseph. I already knew I wanted to run along the river, and I recalled that a bike path adorned the road near the Cap-Diamant area. Spotting a bike route near my hotel, I figured that it would lead me in the right direction. I've been to Quebec six times, so I do vaguely know its geography. My hunch proved correct, and I picked up the path I sought along the St. Laurence.

The Quebec Flag

Given my normal weekly plan only involves running three days per week, I want each run of a decent length and quality. Thursday's goal held 13 miles for me - basically a half. I intended to run outbound 6.5 miles and then reverse my steps in returning to the hotel. Probably I could have planned more of a circuit, but that would have taken me away from the river. Yet at the same time, I also recalled that I might have to run some of the course on either a narrow sidewalk or actually abandon my route as I didn't think the bike pavement stretched the entire distance. The key to this workout clearly involved staying flexible.

My runs vary in how much I enjoy them. Mostly, I have fun, but some earn the title of "a slug." At other times, I know early on that the run is a winner. Today, within two miles, my ten minute insomnia deal proved the correct call.

As I came around the Cap, I spied a hot air balloon rising out of the old city. I slammed on the brakes and grabbed my iPhone to snap a picture. What a real treat! And consider the randomness of the event. What if my tired fingers had manipulated my iPod alarm clock correctly? I would have passed the spot I saw the balloon 30 minutes too early. Plus, if I had slept to 7:30, then the magical sight would only have been spotted by the dock workers who I noticed watching while I snapped the image.

Morning over Quebec

Just a scosh further, I passed a berthed Canadian Coast Guard ship. The name was Amundsen, the famous polar explorer who graced some of my Antarctica entries from February. Happy serendipity.
Click for a larger image to read the boat's name
The last bit of good fortune concerned the bike path. I found it now extended all the way along Boulevard Champlain - the major road next to the river and named for the city's founder Samuel de Champlain.

So, I had a smooth trail beneath my feet as I passed through a number of charming river side parks. The 55 (14 Celsius) degree weather mixed with the beautiful blue sky and river inspired me to a 1:50 time for 13.5 miles. (I was so enjoying myself that I turned around later than expected.) I clocked the 2nd half 10 seconds per minute faster than the first half. Not bad for a sleepy body which I learned needed to run more than to sleep.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Will Rogers 10K results

Happy 4th of July everyone!

For the 6th straight year, I participated in the Pacific Palisades local event: The Will Rogers 5k/10K. This was the 34th running of the event, and I selected the 10k. About 1000 people competed in the event, and I came in 90th overall and 9th in my age group. This is pretty much on track for me.

One interesting stat is what is called Age Grade. Basically, they look at the world record time for the distance and then factor in your age. I performed at 64% which is good. The highest I've been in any event is about 70% and usually I'm more around 60%.

Two aspects of the race that pleased me. The course features 600 feet of elevation climb. I attacked the hills employing a very fast turn over of my feet in short steps. That kept my pace around 7:30 - 8:00 on the step parts. Overall, I clocked in at 7:14.

Here's a link to my results. I ran a minute faster in 2007 and 3 minutes slower last year. (The other 3 times I ran in the Palisades, I ran the 5k.) This year, I also ran 5.8 miles prior to the race as I wanted to go 12 today in total.

And because it is a community event, I ran into a couple of friends after I finished which was nice.

All in all, this was a great start to a wonder July 4 here in 90272.