Sunday, November 18, 2012

50 Miles is a long way

Hi all -

Just a quick post to update that I successfully completed my first (and potentially only) 50 mile race - the JFK 50 - yesterday.  Just over 10 hours and a lot of running.  Feeling good today and flying back to LA shortly.

State 14 in the bag as well.

Friday, November 16, 2012

50 Miler Go Go!

Hmm.  My last post occurred in September.  The calendar shows November over half complete.  Did I give up running?  Nope, just have not written about it for a bit.  Actually, I have penned a number of partial posts that I just did not get around to finishing yet.  But I will.

After tomorrow.

With my friend Thomas Riddle during the Spinx Greenville SC Marathon -
just one of the awesome experiences I have not written about yet!
For tomorrow, I will attempt the JFK 50 - a 50 mile run through rural Maryland including a piece of the Appalachian Trail.  This is the 50th running of the event.

From the website, the course description sounds intense - particularly the beginning part:

The first 5.5 miles (starting on road surface and joining the Appalachian Trail at 2.5 miles) gains 1,172 feet in elevation. The course from 2.5 to 15.5 miles is on the Appalachian Trail (except for two miles of paved road between 3.5 and 5.5 miles). This section of the AT is very rocky in sections as it rolls across the mountain ridge. At approximately 14.5 miles the course drops over 1,000 feet in a series of steep “switchbacks” that then crosses under Rt. 340 and connects with the C&O Canal towpath. The “Canal” section of the JFK 50 Mile is 26.3 miles (from 15.5-41.8 miles) of almost totally flat unpaved dirt/gravel surface that is free of all automotive vehicle traffic. The JFK 50 Mile route leaves the C&O Canal towpath at Dam #4 and proceeds to follow gently rolling paved country roads the last 8.4 miles to the finish. The Boonsboro start is at an elevation of 570 feet. The Williamsport finish is at 452 feet above sea level.

That 1000 feet drop over a mile seems daunting!  The rest just sounds long.  Note that a section of the course is a full marathon in length on the C&O Canal.

And of course my excitement level measures off the charts.

During a recent training run over the Golden Gate Bridge

So, instead of writing about my running (which I feel bad about skipping as I do like writing the blog), I have been just running.  A lot.  While not violating my plan of running only 3 days a week, I created a series of challenges to get me ready.  This plan is not based on any official ultrarunning text book; I just cooked up distances and frequencies of running marathon that I hope have prepared me.  I started this journey in May in Fargo and completed the following:

  • May 19, Fargo Marathon - 3rd marathon in 28 days (following London and a small one in Playa del Rey)
  • June 23, Niagara Falls 50K - 31 mile ultra in my best time at that distance (4:34:57)
  • July 28-29, Bad Bass half marathon and San Francisco Marathon in the same weekend (39.3 miles)
  • August 19, Turkey Swamp 50K + 4 miles -  first 35 mile run
  • September 15-16, North Face Wisconsin Trail Marathon and Fox Valley Marathon - back-to-back marathons in 2 days in 2 states (Wisconsin and Illinois)
  • September 30, Wabash Heritage Trail Marathon, West Lafayette, Indiana + 14 miles - first 40 mile run
  • October 14, 20 and 27 - 3 marathons in 3 states in 3 weeks (Road to Education, Mason City Iowa, Hercules Part 1, Santa Monica CA and Spinx Running Festival, Greenville South Carolina). 
  • October 20 was a 45 mile day as I added 19 more miles beyond the marathon
  • Plus a handful of other marathons scattered in along the way.

The past three weeks have featured slower, shorter runs to keep myself from burning out.  I've run trails and dirt paths and grass.  Here, there and everywhere.  And all of this running has been a blast.  I've now completed 13 states on my 50 state goal and 34 marathons or longer - 19 in the past 52 weeks.  I've gotten to run with friends and see new sites all in anticipation to my first race at 50 miles.
My 13 Completed States Map Pending the JFK 50 in Maryland

Hopefully all of this prep will find me smiling after about 9-10 hours of running tomorrow.  I think it will.  Wish me luck and think good thoughts.


I am going to try to tweet during the race with my status if you are interested in following along.  @runlairdrun is my twitter handle.

Finishing a trail marathon in Wisconsin, September 15, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Capitol Run

Few city runs can match the experience of running around the National Mall in Washington DC.  I have run in the area as often as my travel the Capitol City would allow. The Marine Corps and DC National Marathons both offer races including this area.  I bet any number of smaller races are staged here too.

Where else can you be surrounded by monuments, museums, memorials and massive government buildings?  Big and small treats unfold over the miles of paths and tree lined walkways.  A good run (or walk for that matter) probably requires 5-8 miles to take in the breadth of the area.  I turned my 7 mile run into a photo exploration on August 23.

Equipped with my handy iPhone, I hit the street at my hotel at 14th and H Streets at 6:10 AM - about 25 mins before sunrise to ensure I would have wonderful morning light and not too bright a sky.  I hope you enjoy this Photo Run. Really, there is no right or wrong way to run in the area, and I hope if you journey here, you will bring your trainers.

The Photos
Here's the map of my run and the photo locations.

Bounding out of the Washington DC Hilton Garden Inn, I headed south on 14th Street until I hit the Mall.

1. The Washington Monument by its height is fairly visible anywhere in the main DC area.  I hit the Nation Mall just in front of the obelisk and shot this facing west.  Without trying, numerous of my photos find this iconic spire in the background.  Sadly, the viewing deck is still closed from the 2011 Earthquake.

2. The Smithsonian Castle anchors the string of museums lining both sides of the Mall.  A fellow runner enjoys the dirt and gravel paths available for all sorts of exercise.  As my run unfolded, I saw more and more people out stretching their legs.  This image was taken facing south.

3. This post is called a Capitol Run, so next up are a few shots of the Capitol building which sits at the east end of the Mall.  It forms a line with the Lincoln and Washington tributes, and one of the diagonal avenues (Pennsylvania) has a direct via of the White House (and vice-a-versa of course).  The District was laid out with all of this in mind.  The sun was still not up, but this pre-dawn sky made for a nice background.  My flash fired which illuminated the street signs as you can see the street lights are still on.

As the Capitol sits on a hill, I had a small rise to navigate which I did around the north side.  I could just glimpse Union Station.  This led me up to my next photo location.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Training for the 50 Miler Part 2: 35 Miles Into the Woods and Fields

Triumph after finishing my first 35 mile day and my 4th 50K
(This is the second of an ongoing series about training for the JFK 50 this November - my first run at the 50 mile distance.  Part one can be found here)

13 weeks to go until the JFK 50 on November 17 - part of my personal 50/50 Challenge.  Having run any number of marathons, mainly on roads, I know how to prepare for the 26.2 distance. Even now with three 50k (31 miles) ultramarathons, I have a sense of being ready for those.

The JFK 50 will feature 19 more miles and almost all of it on trails and gravel roads.  Both this longer distance (and longer time) and newish surface to me require training.  Sunday, August 19 offered me a chance to practice them all at the Turkey Swamp 50k in Freehold New Jersey where I cycled through is lovely county park twelve times.

A fellow runner in the woods.  Note the white arrow indicating our path.
My trusty Marathon Maniacs website helped me locate this New Jersey Road Runners organized race.  And in fact, soon after arriving at the event, I quickly found fellow marathon maniacs out for a trek over dirt roads, through forest single tracks and across open grass fields.  Fortunately, the weather stayed around 70 and cloud cover moved in after an hour of running to keep us from too much sun.
Maniacs attack!

For me, my added challenge was pushing my longest run up to 35 miles from a previous high of 31.  I started about 40 minutes before the race and put in 3 miles at an easy 10 minute pace.  Then after a 20 minute gap (the race started late), I attacked the race which ultimately measured 32.6 miles for me.  These field and trail runs often are longer than advertised. So, in the end I ran 35.6 miles.  Slowly. In total, I was out just over 6 hours - a new max for me as well.  I finished 10 out of 25.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Would your cheat in a race?

I've just read an interesting article in the August 6 issue of The New Yorker.  Thanks to Emily for pointing it out to me.  "Marathon Man" by Mark Singer chronicles the story of Kip Litton, a Michigan dentist on a quest to complete a marathon in all 50 states. (Hmm, that goal sounds familiar.)  More people summit Everest than complete their 50th lifetime state during a year.  Kip Litton has run a running website (that all sounds familiar too) and is supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since his youngest son suffers from the disease.  He dropped 30 lbs when he discovered running.  (Check.  Been there.  Done that.)

And he seems to be a fantastic cheater. (Now that, happily, does not sound familiar.)

You can find an abstract to the article in the following link, and subscribers should be able to find the article in full via their web account or iPad app.

In brief, Dr. Litton appears to have been faking a number of race results showing him finishing under the magical 3 hour mark.  In fact, he has been disqualified from various marathons and nearly dq'ed from others.  His fraud came to light because he was listed as the winner or a top finisher in a few marathons, but the people "behind" him have no recollection of him passing them.  His times are fast for a 50 year old, and a smoking gun is that he does not seem to appear in photos early in the races.  Yet, he tends to hit the timing checks on the course meaning he is present at the race when mid-run times are recorded by the electronic systems.

He even faked a marathon in Wyoming going so far as to put up a website, list other runners (29 total, and of course winning the race).  He later admitted to creating the race and the fake race director but actually running the "race" that day.  Yet he also faked a post on reviewing the race.  The blogosphere has bashed him about, and he claims ignorance (making the wrong turn here, starting late there) as reasons for his "cheating."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Like to Watch (Marathons on) TV

No one doubts that running a marathon is an incredible achievement.  Some react with envy of being able to run that distance.  Others shake their heads and wonder at the insanity of enduring 26.2 miles, but they respect the accomplishment thanks in part to 116 years of the marathon's existence and mystique.  A handful truly think the feat requires a white coat and hospitalization.  (And those nominally informed about health assume the only result will be a wheel chair and numerous replacement surgeries.)  This is all better than when the marathon started and people assumed runners would collapse and die at the end or that no woman could ever run that distance.

The London Olympic Marathon Course
Yet without much exception, the reaction from friends to me watching a marathon on TV basically borders on incredulity.  Why in the world would I want to subject myself to 2+ hours of a race that is usually decided in the final 15 minutes - if it is even close at that stage?

This past week, I have had the opportunity to watch two exciting and enjoyable races - the Women's and Men's Olympic Marathons from the streets of London.  For the Women's race, I streamed the UK coverage a few hours after completion via the site.  (Getting up to watch live at 3 am was crazy even for me.)  Today, the last day of the Olympics, I got up at 6 am to watch the Men's live (about half of which I watched from the exercise bike in my hotel's workout room).

If you did not see them or even pay attention, the top finishers were:

1. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) 2:23:07 (Olympic record)
2. Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) 2:23:12
3. Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova (Russia) 2:23:29 (personal best)

Top American: 10. Shalane Flanagan 2:25:51 - Super solid finish

1. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) 2:08:01
2. Abei Kirui (Kenya) 2:08:27
3. Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich 2:09:37 (no relation to the winner)

Top America: 4. Meb Keflezigi 2:11:06 (who moved up from 20th at one point)

The course in London ended up being excellent.  Yet on paper, a twisty city marathon built of basically 3 loops seemed just plain wrong.  And the marathon, instead of finishing in the Olympic stadium as the closing ceremony begins, was run no where near the East London Olympic Village.  Instead it concentrated on the the landmarks of London and ended at the site of the London Marathon finish in the Mall near Buckingham Palace.

But we needed have seconded guessed the LOOC.  Crowds were out in full force during both marathons - the women's being mostly run in the rain while setting an Olympic Record.  I think the repeating nature of the course actually helped the competitors plan their strategies.  I have to say from experience that running the same route and course a few times does matter.  I have found that with both the LA Marathon and the NYC Marathon - the only marathons I have run more than once.  I suspect I will experience that when I run London again next April.

One reason I watch marathons is to see how the best run them. The back 4 miles or so of the Olympic marathon was pretty much the same as the last 4 of the London Marathon.  That was very interesting to watch because I had just run them myself.  I knew that there are a few steep uphills and downhills as the embankment part ducks under bridges.  In the men's marathon, the winner, Kiprotich, used one of these sections to pull away from the Kenyans who finished 2nd and 3rd.  That was incredible to see.  This all happened at mile 24.  In the women's marathon, the top two were battling back and forth in the final few miles.  Could I power up those hills late in the marathon?  I will have to put that to the test.

Both races included some early moves as well.  The Kenyan Kiprotich, who claimed bronze, surged ahead for 10 miles.  Yet he was eventually caught and passed.  Was it a mistake to surge?  I guess so from the result, but who knows how he was feeling.  In a marathon, you have to go with it sometimes.  The Russian woman in third pushed the speed too, but a pack of women stayed with her.  She eventually couldn't hold with the winner from Ethiopia.  What's remarkable about Gelana is that she actually fell at a drinks station. Yet she got back up and got into the race again and then won by a few seconds.  The marathon is forgiving in that manner.
Tiki Gelana wins the Women's Marathon

Meb Keflezigi
It is not forgiving if you are not feeling up to par.  The top American runner, Ryan Hall, looked lousy from the start and eventually dropped out.  Interviewed by Lewis Johnson from NBC just afterward, Ryan said his hamstring never felt great.  He tried to work it out during the race, but ultimately it beat him.  I suspect Ryan could have finished the race in a slow time (for him), but that's not what this event is about.  This disappointment follows Deena Kastor, the American female record holder, breaking her foot early in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Marathon.

Most surprising and exciting for me was seeing Meb Keflezigi move up from way back to 4th.  Meb was a silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Games, and the 37 year old has been battling injuries.  He won the NYC marathon a few years ago in a surprise 2:09:15 (his PR), and to catch Don Santos from Brazil (who ended up 5th) in the last mile was awesome.  I wish the TV coverage had shown more of this.  Meb was born in Eritrea and moved to the US as a refugee when he was 12.  He is a wonderful personality and a great ambassador for the sport.

It is easy to focus on the top runners, but over 75 runners ultimately finish the race.  Due to the qualifying standards, you can find personal best times over 20 minutes slower than the top runners.  Still, finishing a marathon at any point is incredible, and for some, like Overall of britain who came in 61st, this is still their Olympic moment as anguishing as it looks.

61st Place but still a finisher for Team GB
Trust me, watching the marathon was far easier than running it in sub 3 hour times.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend Report: San Francisco Races

I picked up some serious hardware this weekend.  My goal of nearly 40 miles over two days went off pretty much as planned and today, while not as spry as usual, I'm feeling ok.  My calves are probably complaining the most, but my energy is good.  First off, check out these cool finishing medals!
Bad Bass Half, SF/LA Challenge (for completing both in 2012) and SF Marathon

On Saturday, I ran the Bad Bass trail Half Marathon.  My goal of 2:00 was just missed at 2:01.  The terrain was a great mix of loose and hard dirt and featured numerous ups and downs.  I found the downs the trickiest part as it was so, so easy to sprint them.  However, knowing that the SF marathon the next day would feature a fairly hilly first half, blasting my quads to pick up a few more seconds seemed stupid.  So, with every trick I knew, I focused on taking the hills in an easy manner.  My goal was to use the gravity assist to let my heart rate decrease from the strain going up the previous hill.

And speaking of previous hills, I have learned in my ultramarathon running that you pretty much walk the steep bits.  Everyone on Saturday - even in a half - was doing this.  The difference in speed in walking and running them is negligible, but the savings in exhaustion is huge.  I suppose the best and speediest of ultra runners do run them, but that's why they win medals and belt buckles.  I found that shortening my stride, keeping on my toes a bit and just plain holding back worked.  And in fact today, after the two races, my quads feel pretty good.

The race itself was beautiful.  We traversed lovely hills above Oakland and a lake/reservoir.  Finding the location was easy (I was an hour early so no stress there).  Temps were in the 60's.  The race staff was on top of it, and everything really just went well.  I had some nice chats with other runners along the way, and they had a great selection of food and treats.

You can see me in the yellow shirt as we start up this hill
I did also find the race director and ask why "Bad Bass?"  (See my previous post for the confusion.)  It turns out there is no real reason.  The lake has bass in it. And when he started this race (he puts on 20 different ones a year), he just picked Bad Bass.  He sort of does not like it, but he feels compelled to keep it.  Frankly, I think this finishing medal is the coolest of the three.  There is a Scottish Tartan thing to these guys too - they all had some sort of tartan clothing, and the race shirt had a subtle pattern to it.  The women all had tartan skirts on.  Brazen Racing is the organization, and if you are in the Bay Area, I recommend their events.
The Brazen Racing Race Director decked out in the kilt

Friday, July 27, 2012

Training for the 50 Miler Part 1: San Francisco Treat x 2

Training for the 50-Miler Part 1:  San Francisco Treat x 2
A SF Room with a View
How does one actually train for a 50 mile race?  Well, clearly, one runs a lot.  However, for me, I try not to run more than 3 days a week.  Instead, I cross train with cycling and swimming and (although I have been very absent) CrossFit.  In a good week, I complete 5-6 workouts.  If I am not traveling, I might go for 10 days in a row.

So, short of running marathons for training runs during my normal days, I have planned a series of weekend events to challenge and push me.  The thinking is:  If I can do these, then I can survive the 50 miler on November 17.

And I am sucker for achievements - both my own created ones and external ones.

That combination has lead me to one of my favorite places: San Francisco CA.  I called the Bay Area home from 1991 to 1994.  I rented my first apartment in Larkspur and lived in my first house in San Rafael.  And I got married there too.  I still have friends from the area, and work brought me here regularly.  As I type this, I am looking out my lovely hotel room at the Bay Bridge and the Embarcadero.  Earlier today, I went to the Wharf Market to buy food for my weekend here.

So, as you might have surmised by now, I am going to run the San Francisco Marathon on Sunday.  This long hosted event features a double traverse across the Golden Gate Bridge which celebrated its 75th birthday this year.  Indeed, the goodie bag given out with the bibs and race information features this iconic landmark.  Two years ago, I ran the first half with my college roommate Steve.  (The race is available as a full marathon, either the first or second half and a brand new Ultra Hurt where you run the course twice - once backwards at midnight and once forward with us mere mortals doing the full.  See, there are crazier people than me.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Destination Running: Lewisville Lake

Today's 9 mile run in Frisco, TX

This week finds me in Frisco and Plano TX teaching the final week of SMU's summer module.  My friend Elizabeth Stringer, full time faculty at SMU's Guildhall video game program, invited me to teach their first publishing production class.  The experience has been a blast in terms of working with some great students and learning to teach mostly remotely via Google Hangout.  With the final project of the class requiring me to be in person for the student presentations, I planned to stay here the entire week. Happily, Elizabeth and her family provide an excellent bed, breakfast and dinner, so I am able to enjoy hanging out with my friends.

With the Dallas area approaching 95 each day (actually below normal for this time of year), I only planned to run one day while in town and to visit the gym for other workouts.  I left the run for today, my birthday, since I always run on my birthday.  That starts the day off right in my opinion.
Today I planned to do 9 miles.  (20% of 45, my age.)  Next weekend, I will run and bike 45 miles.  Next year, I hope to be able to run 46 miles.  I see from looking back that I set out to run 45 and bike 45 this year.  Oh well.  Good thing I didn't make a big deal about that goal!  (In fact, I better be able to do 46 next year if I am going to complete my 50 mile goal later this year.  See 50-50 Foresight for more on that.)

But where to go today?  I poked around the internet to see if any good trails or running places popped out at me.  I know of the Katy Trail and have run part of it before, but that's over 30 minutes drive from Frisco down into Dallas.  A 90 minute run isn't great when you add in 1 hour of driving. showed me some local running on streets in Frisco, and what caught my eye was a lake west of Frisco - Lewisville Lake.  I could not tell if a path near the lake existed, so instead I decided to see if I could at least run to the lake and back.  The lake is huge, so I could just reach a finger of it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

50-50 Foresight

When I completed my goal of running a marathon on all 7 continents last October, naturally many people asked what running challenge would I tackle next.  I hemmed and hawed on that, and I even promised to write up something for the blog when I knew.  However, I did not imagine so many months would pass before I finally brought forth an answer.

And of course, one goal alone cannot satisfy me, so I am setting three - one short term, one medium term and one crazy one.

50 Miles
Ever since I ran my first 50 kilometer (31 mile) race in 2010, I knew I wanted to try for 50 miles.  In ultramarathon running, the standard distances are 50k (considered a short ultra), 50 miles, 100K (63 miles) and 100 miles.  I suspect 100 miles is outside my ability or at least my desire to train for that length.  100K might be doable, and I would love to try the Comrades marathon in South Africa (89K/56 miles).  50 miles in any case is the next step up.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Going Far in Fargo




Famous perhaps for the Coen Brothers movie, this small northern midwest town sits at the border of North Dakota and Minnesota.  About 110,000 people live here, and the Marathon is a big deal.  The woman sitting next to me on the flight said the race brings in a huge amount of tourism to the area.  Nearly every hotel sells out, and she said that is worth the road closures.

The course itself loops from North Dakota State to the north for a short jaunt and then down south for the majority of the race. Effectively, the race parallels the Red River of the North. (The south one flows in Texas and Oklahoma and then into Arkansas and Louisiana before joining the Mississippi River.)  However, I don't think we will actually see the water.  Oh well.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

London Tradition Calling

The 32nd London Marathon.  

As per usual tradition, my feet are up, my computer on and in general my activity level hovers around nil. My 2nd two liter bottle of water sits besides me three-quarters full.  More work to be done there before the day is out. Dinner, with friends Kristin and Tarek, calls for fish - again as per my custom. So, lots of little traditions before a much bigger one.

One tradition is the pre-marathon call for donations.  This race is particularly special as I am running for the local charity Rays of Sunshine.  I am using to donate to them.  Last night, I got to meet a few people from the charity in a small gathering.  Genni and Olivia from the charity (and hopefully Jane Sharpe, Executive Director, whom I met on a plane in 2010) will be on Tower Bridge cheering us on.  I met Ross, a fellow runner and a veteran of the race; he is looking for a good pace; we'll see how we both do.  Thank you to the many people who have already donated.
At the Rays of Sunshine Drinks Meet Up
(The US-based charities are also still available for giving here.)

Tradition (or, perhaps, let us say history) dominates everything about London.  What makes running the marathon here so special is that Rebecca, Justin and I lived here nearly a decade ago.  So, the connection to our past drove a key reason I wanted to run this event.  Some 40,000 people will join me I am told at 9:45 AM local time on Sunday.  Of course, London hosts the Olympics this year as well (but the marathon will be on a different course.)

This trip in fact has been punctuated by history and traditions which create a tidy package of ideas for this last email blast blast/blog post.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hyde Park Heaven

5 blissful miles in Hyde Park.  Overcast skies and cool temperatures. Numerous other runners, cyclists, dog walkers, pedestrians and a few on horseback for company.  Perfect for a last training run before Sunday's Virgin London Marathon.
Peter Pan's Statue - One of many monuments in the Park
Hyde Park contains so many paths that running there never dulls or becomes repetitive.   Turn a new corner, and you might find a statue or memorial that you never knew existed.  Another bend leads to a water feature or copse of trees.  The 350, most flat, acres anchors the Western portion of London, and combined with the adjacent Kensington Gardens provides recreation to millions of visitors each year.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What happens when the weather is nice?

The LA Marathon took over the streets of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica on Sunday, March 18.  The 27th running of the event found me lined up in corral B aiming for a sub-4 hour race in my fourth LA Marathon and 20th marathon overall.

Having a great time at Mile 18.  (photo by Miri Frankel)

If you have been keeping track the past few weeks, Sunday's weather forecast featured torrential rain, maybe some hail and a fair bit of wind.  And in fact, Saturday's Big 5K race had all but the hail.  Combined with last year's rainy marathon, my imagination needed no stoking to construct a picture of what I could expect.  In fact, I did not care too much if we got drenched during the run, but standing in the rain awaiting the start seemed miserable.

Yet expectations are not always realities.  And a cool day (perfect for marathon running) dawned on Sunday.  Not a drop of rain feel that I felt, and other than a windy run home on the beach after the marathon, I was comfortable, had a great time (literally and figuratively) and all around cruised.  (This past Sunday, we had all of the promised torrential rain, and I stayed happily dry inside.  The weather gurus had the right weather on the wrong day!)

Here are my results:
Time:  3:33:59 (1 minute faster than my best hoped for time)
Place:  996 out of 18,837 (Top 6%)
Male Place:   863 out of 11468 (Top 8%)
Males 40-45:  138 out of 1431 (top 10%)
Age rating (basically, how good did I do against the record for my age):  61% 
    (this is very good - 70% is the highest I have ever hit in any race)

Results Commentary
I aimed for 3:35 - 3:45, so I am psyched with my sub 3:34.  This is my 4th fastest marathon ever and fastest in 18 months.  It's also my 3rd marathon under 3:40 this year to go along with a 3:44 one.  I actually cramped in my calves just as a I crossed the finish line.  Someone from the staff came over to see if I was ok, but after 30 seconds, I was able to move, get my medal and pose for a photo.  5 minutes later I was running home the 4.2 miles to hit my 30 mile target for the day.

Race Commentary

Saturday, March 17, 2012

LA Marathon Update 2: Rain or shine?

Hello all -

The big question I have received since sending out my marathon update earlier in the week has been about the weather.  After nearly a whole winter without rain, LA got hit this weekend with a storm.  As I type this, the sun is clearing around the Palisades even as dusk commences.  Does that bode well or ill?  The forecast still says "few showers" for tomorrow.  Scattered is an improvement on last year's "continuous" actuality.  (And of course, we just got a squall as I typed this paragraph.)  I don't mind the rain much when running, but the standing waiting in it is lousy.

I had a taste of the rainy run this morning of LA Big 5K - a 3.1 mile jaunt around the environs of Dodger Stadium as part of the marathon weekend.  I joined a group of runners running for the Alliance of Children's Rights.  I mentioned the group in my last email, and I'm excited to say that we've reached last year's $50,000 level.  Thanks in part to those of you who have donated this week based on my email, we are in a position to surpass 2011.  So, if you haven't had a chance or do not know which charity to support, please pick the Alliance for our final push.

We had good representation today from the Activision quadrant.  My fellow running club friend, Miri, was in town from Minneapolis for business meetings and braved the lousy LA weather to take in her first LA race.  On a day when running around lake Minnetonka would have been more pleasant, she got to meet many people from the Alliance contingent and then get dumped on with rain when I picked up my bib for tomorrow's race.  Miri and her friends run for charities too.  Read more here

I also had the pleasure to meet Mike whom I have only know via email and Facebook.  Mike is from Ohio and is best friends with Activision's SVP of North American Sales, Steve.  Steve connected us last year when Mike started his running career because he wanted to share some of my running adventures.  I am super appreciative, and today I got the chance to see both of them as they ran the 5K.  Mike, like me, is running for the Alliance and is also running the full marathon tomorrow.  So, we'll be hanging out prior to the event.

As I have written before, the LA marathon course is great.  Honestly, I was getting very excited during the 5K and then at the expo just thinking about it.  I have friends waving hi on the course, and I can already picture myself stepping (splashing?) through the 26 miles from Dodger Stadium to the beach.  My goal is then to add in 4 more miles running home for a total of 30.

My name on one of two pace cars.  I was in about the same spot last year too.

None of us can control the weather, so all that is left is to enjoy the rest no matter what happens.

Thanks again for your support.  The US charities page is here:, and the page for Rays of Sunshine in the UK is now as well:

Look for a post race update tomorrow.  For those who want during the course action updates, you can follow me by registering here:  My bib number is 679.

(By the way, there isn't a lot of meaning to the bib numbers, but for some reason mine is very low for a normal runner.  I was super jazzed getting to go to the "1-1500" section of the race pick up area.)



PS If you actually can control the weather, please dial in a nice mid-50's cool day with minimal breezes.  Thanks in advance from all 20,000 LA Marathon runners.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Let the Fundraising Begin!

Dear friends and family,

Once more, the streets beckon to my feet, and once more I hope to dash through a number of marathons this spring.  Like last year's equinox fling, the big events kick off with the Honda LA Marathon on March 18.  Then, 5 weeks later, I'll be hitting the pavement in my short lived but thoroughly beloved expatriate home of London, England.  After that, I am heading to Fort Collins or Fargo (or both!) for more 26.2 mile jaunts.  My big goal for this year is to complete a 50 mile race.  Crazy? Sure!  But first things first.  (Yep, it's fundraising time! Here's the link for those wanting to skip the commentary:

The Awesome Stadium to Sea Course

Now, you may be wondering why LA again.  Well, of course geographically, I should run LA.  Yet more than that, I really have loved the past two years competing in the Stadium to the Sea Course that kicks off at Dodger Stadium, heads east to downtown and then back west through Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood and Brentwood before ending in Santa Monica above the Pacific Ocean.  Heavy rain last year did not dissuade me from a third crack at this awesome route.  With Frank McCourt selling off both the Dodgers and the LA Marathon, no one has any idea how long this course will stay in place.  And even beyond those reasons, I like being proud of running in Los Angeles.  This is my hometown, and while I have lived in many places and liked them all, I should be loyal and supportive of LA's race - one of the oldest big city marathons.

This support of LA extends to one of the four charities I am backing again this year.  The Alliance for Children's Rights provides free legal and support services to children in the foster system here in LA.  They do amazing work with adoptions, child defense, reuniting siblings split by foster parents and creating programs to support kids moving into college and beyond.  They have mentor programs and take a very hands on approach to everything they do.  I am the co-chair again this year of their LA Marathon fund raising.  Last year we hit over $50,000, and the goal this year is much bigger.  We expect over 80 runners between the 5K and LA Marathon on March 17 and 18.  If you are in LA and want to run one of these, please let me know!  The team at the Alliance does a great job taking care of us runners, and they will be at mile 20 of the marathon to cheer us on.  This is also the 20th anniversary of the charity.  Rebecca's new medical practice is a sponsor of their efforts as well.  Learn more:

Later, 2012 finds the world descending on London for the Summery Olympic Games.  So, I wanted to run the Virgin London Marathon as my way of connecting to that amazing event in a place where we lived for about a year.  When I am in London, just walking through the streets makes me feel at home and relaxed.  The race is April 22 and follows a lovely course from Greenwich to near Buckingham Palace.  The 1908 London Marathon was the first to set a marathon distance at 26.2 miles (42.1 km), and so in many ways, it is part home of the marathon (along with Athens which hosted the first ever and Boston which has kept it alive for over 110 years).

To celebrate the London marathon, I'm running for Rays of Sunshine.  I met the Executive Director and her family on a flight to Morocco back in 2010 during my 7 continent quest.  She gave me the opportunity to run for her group, and I took advantage.  Rays of Sunshine provides wish fulfillment for children suffering form terminal and serious diseases.  They work throughout the UK and have been around for many years.  They are well known and moreover well respected.  I am proud to add them to the fold.

While I left Activision in December, I still believe strongly in the C.O.D.E. mission of providing training and jobs for our veterans.  C.O.D.E. has been gaining a lot of momentum and continues to establish new scholarships and job opportunities throughout the United States.  Whenever I post on the C.O.D.E. site about my running, I get a lot of positive support and affirmation.

Children International is another awesome group.  I was privileged to visit their Viña del Mar facility in Chile this past October.  In fact, I actually followed my 7th continent marathon with that excursion.  I'm so happy I did because it reminded me of the power of people helping others;  I spend a lot of time running by myself, and connecting my running to something much bigger than my mileage log is crucial to my fun.  In December, I visited the C.I. HQ in Kansas City.  Together, we brainstormed how the funds we raise could be used, and we agreed that all funds donated to the marathon efforts will go to their new kids sports program: Game On!  This program is designed to keep kids busy after school so they do not fall in with the wrong elements in their impoverished neighborhoods.   Soccer is the main activity, and that means a lot of running!  At some point this spring or summer, I will go back to KC and run a race with their staff for fun.  Learn more at

Over the next few days, I'll provide some updates as the LA Marathon unfolds, and I gear up for London.  As always, if you want off the list, please just email me.  No worries at all.

And moreover, thank you to those who have supported me in my 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 campaigns.  We've officially opened the 2012 donation page at:  This is for the US charities.  Another email will detail how to donate to Rays of Sunshine on a similar UK site.   For all donations made, we will match $10 per donation to the charity chosen.  So, giving anything nets more money to each charity.

Thank you in advance for considering any amount you see fit.  Also, if you prefer to write a check to any of these organizations, please let me know.  This saves on the processing fees and gets more money into the charities' programs.

Here's to hoping whatever endeavors are inspiring you are going amazingly!



PS Once again, thanks for reading and supporting.