Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Liebster Award and 10 Questions

Awesome. I was nominated for my first blog award by Lou @ Running Through China. You should check out her blog as she runs through China, teaches English and explores all that China has to offer. 
Liebster award rules.
1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
3. Answer the 10 questions from the nominee.
4. Copy & Paste the award to your blog.
5. Nominate 10 of your favorite blogs.
6. Create 10 questions for the new nominees.
7. Inform them of their nomination.

This seems like a fun way to share a little about myself and learn more about my fellow bloggers. Here are the questions that Lou asked of me.

1. Do you remember why you started running, and when this was?
Well, I started running regularly while I was in the military. After I got out I stopped doing exercise of any kind and gained a lot of weight. I didn't really take running seriously until a couple of years ago to lose weight and to get back into shape. I now have lost over 100lbs. Woo-hoo!
2. What’s your favourite post workout meal or snack?
If it is morning I don't eat before my workouts. So post workout I love to eat cereal and fruit.
3. If you could rewind to any age or point in time right now, what would it be?
I don't know. I suppose I would like to go back to my High School age with the confidence, knowledge, and self esteem that I have now. I am sure I wasted too much energy in worrying about what others thought and not living life to the fullest.
4. Do you have a favourite song? Or top 3?
I probably can't choose specific songs. Top 3 bands right now would be Vampire Weekend, Linkin Park, and Far East Movement. My favorites change with the mood and the activity though. lol.
5. Party drugs in your youth – yay or nay?
Nope, I am one of the only people I know that have never done any "party" or illegal, or recreational drugs. I actually haven't even tried a cigarette. I guess I am pretty plain. 
6.What is your biggest fitness motivation?
At first my motivation was to lose weight. Now it is to get better and push the limits of how fast and far I can run.
7. Ever not quite feel real?
Umm, I don't think so. Not sure what you mean though.
8. What 3 things bring you the most joy in life?
Running, family, and watching my sports teams. Oops, I probably should put family first in the list before anyone sees this. :) 
 9. Ever try any crazy 'fad' diet, such as Atkins, the baby food diet etc.?
No, I just reduced my calories and increased my activity. The website Myfitnesspal.com was a big help with that. I have been intrigued with Zach Bitter and his ketogenic similar diet though. But I don't think I can stop eating pizza, pasta, and my breakfast cereals though.
10. What’s your biggest goal that you are working on right now?
Well, because I am still fairly new to running. I have multiple big goals. The one I am currently working on for 2014 is running my first marathon.

Alright, I hope I wasn't getting graded because I think I failed. ;)

Alright now for the 10 bloggers I nominate.
Roberto @ Roberto Mandje
Elisabeth @ Running on E

The ten questions for you awesome bloggers and athletes are:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is your main goal for 2014?
3. If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you spend your days doing?
4. Do you prefer short and fast or long and slow? (I mean running race distances, you dirty minded people)
5. Do you prefer working out in a gym or at home?
6. What sports, athletes, teams do you follow?
7. Where did you grow up and what is that area known for?
8. Are you a dog or cat person, and why?
9. What is you favorite food?
10. What makes you unique?

Have fun answering the questions fellow bloggers. 
Now anyone else, feel free to answer any of the questions and comment below. I would love to hear your answers. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Winning... A Recap of my Bunny Run 10k

Happy Monday. The weekend really felt too short and I don't feel like I am ready for it to be Monday yet.

On Saturday I participated in the Apple Valley Bunny Run 10k. It really is a fairly small event but I believe it is a well run event (cheesy pun). I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to run it because of my 16k trail race on the previous weekend but I tested out my legs on a few easy runs during the week. My legs surprisingly felt pretty good so I decided that I would go ahead and do the Bunny Run. I had never done races on consecutive weekends before so I really did not have a lot of expectations, but still wanted to do well.

The race start is at 8:00 am and I arrived about 7:30 am to register and get my bib and shirt. I really like small local events because it only cost $20. Now if only all race registrations were that cheap. My Brother showed up shortly after and we talked all about running, of course. A couple minutes before the race start I spotted the Kid that beat me at the previous Turkey Run 10k. So I had a new goal of beating him up (no, not Nancy Kerrigan style).

The race started promptly at 8:00 and we were off running. The course is mostly on paved rural residential roads but has a few small sections of maintained dirt road mixed in. There were only a few water only aid stations but that was fine with me.

I ran so fast that my hair got wind blown and messy.

Why am I always leaning? One of my legs shorter than the other?

I ran with my Brother for the first 1.5 miles or so and I kept the Kid in sight the whole time but he was probably about 30 seconds in front of me. So I decided to pick up the pace a little and see if I could catch him. I caught up with him about mile 2.5 and followed him for a little while but his breathing was more labored than mine. Even though the pace felt uncomfortably fast for me I decided to pass him. I was hoping that I didn't just make a mistake and pass him too early in the race but it looked like he was having an "off" day. From then on I maintained my pace and was running scared that he was going to catch me if I slowed down any. The next runners in front of me were too far ahead to try catching so I just continued to maintain my uncomfortable pace and hoped they would slow down before I did. By mile 5 at the last aid station I stopped and looked back and saw that I put a decent amount of distance between me and the Kid so I felt a little better. After I drank some water and started running again my legs took a couple minutes to get going, this is also where the 5k and 10k course come back together and there were several 5k walkers I had to navigate through. But once I got going again I felt good and was able to keep the fast pace for the last mile. I felt good and I was amazed that I was able to run as well as I did.

Official Time: 47:12
Overall Place: 11th out of 45
Age Group Place: 1st out of ?

My mile splits actually turned out really consistent. You can see my two aid station stops.

I believe the course was a little short but even after estimating my time for a full 6.2 I PR'd. My Brother also did really well and got 3rd in our age group and had a PR. I was amazed that I was able to keep clicking miles off at a 8:00 minute/mile pace. Running small events is always fun and in this case was a huge ego-boost. My head was already big after doing so well in the race the previous weekend and now I have a age group gold medal. I'm so full of myself right now and feeling good that I even thought about wearing my medal under my work clothes. :)  

My age group Gold Medal.

Brother showing off 3rd place age group medal.

I now have to keep all this momentum and continue my training for the OC half marathon that is in 12 days!

I also had a good Easter Sunday this weekend. I do have to ask though, when did Easter become like Christmas? My kids ended up with several toys, gifts, cash, and lots of candy. I guess it's a good time to be a kid. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Xterra Black Mountain Trail Race Recap

Hello to everyone. It has been a couple of days since the race and I am surprisingly not as sore as I usually am after a tough race. Don't get me wrong, my legs definitely feel like they ran a race recently, but I am able to walk around without looking like I have wooden legs. The race weekend threw several wrenches into my race plan but I was able to persevere and was able to have a great race.

Before the Race:

The race start is 8:00 am on Sunday morning with race bib pick up starting at 7:00 am. To ensure I would get enough sleep, minimize driving on Sunday, and make sure I have plenty of time to get to the race start, the family and I drove down on Saturday evening and stayed in a hotel. We woke up around 6:30 am and because of my race jitters didn't sleep all that well but felt like I had gotten an adequate amount of rest. With the early wake up and because we weren't used to sharing one bathroom we were slow getting ready and out the door to check out the free hotel breakfast. I know that one of the most important runner's rules/codes is to not try or do anything different on race day, but I can't pass up free food. By this time it was 7:20 am, so I ate quickly and rushed the family through their breakfast. We got on the road and on our way to the race start by 7:30 am. Being so far behind schedule I was getting worried that I was cutting it too close and may miss the race. By 7:45 we arrived to the first parking area but we were greeted by a "Event Parking Full" sign. We drove a little further towards the overflow parking and again "Event Parking Full" sign. Now I am really worried and have already started thinking about whether or not I'm going to end up with a DNS (did not start). We drove a little further down the rode and saw the shuttle bus leaving the last parking area. Knowing that I did not have time to wait for the next shuttle I convinced my wife to drop me off at the race area and for her and the kids to find parking. So now it was 7:58 am, I got out of the car and decided I wasn't going to grab my new handheld water bottle or energy gels from the trunk of the car and started jogging towards the bib pickup. My Brother was kind enough to wait for me and came over to me as I was pinning my bib on and attaching my timing chip on my shoe as quick as I could. We jogged past the bag drop off area and I tossed my race shirt in and we headed towards the race start. The race had already started and everyone was already gone as we crossed the start mat at 8:03 am.

During the Race:

Miles 0-3: I ran along with my Brother for the first couple of miles and we caught up to the slower racers sooner than I expected. These first three miles were all down hill and I was able to quickly forget about all the stress of the prerace craziness. I got into a groove and was running at a good pace. Because I didn't bring my water bottle or race fuel I had to rethink my race plan. I decided that I would just kind of "wing-it" and go by feel at the aid-stations.

Miles 3-6: This part of the course levels out but has some good steep rolling hills. I was able to run up most of the hills but a few I power walked. All of the downhill parts I really tried to open my pace up.  I was passing several runners at a time and ended up losing my Brother.

Miles 6-8: By this time I think I caught up to the runners that were more my pace because I wasn't passing very many anymore. The course was still rolling hills and I was still keeping a good pace and going strong.

Miles 8-9+ (finish): This was the part of the course that I was worried about. It is a very long and steep climb up to the finish. I just was hoping that I saved enough energy to not be defeated by this incline. I dug deep and was able to run and power walk up the whole way. I just kept reminding myself that I am almost to the finish and that the pain will soon be over. My legs were burning but I was able to pass a few more runners and run through the finish.

Official Time: 1:29:50
Overall Place: 129 out of 326
Age Group place: 21 out of 36

Last couple victims that were passed by Captain Speedypants!

Bulging leg muscles.

I reached my "A" min/mile pace goal and came close to my "B" age group goal.

Finish with a 9:30 min/mile pace or better. - Success at 9:28 min/mile pace.

Finish in top half of my Age Group. - I was 2 minutes off. :(

Post Race:

This race had the most vendors after the race than any of the previous Xterra races I have been to. There were several companies giving out their products for free and there was amazing free food for the racers. I ended up walking a couple of laps around the tents hydrating and replenishing my calories with all the goodies.

After the race it was nice to head back to the hotel to take a shower and hit up the IHOP that was across the street for lunch. Afterwards, the family and I went to Pacific Beach where I soaked my muscles in the cold ocean water. I believe the cold water might be the reason why I am recovering from the race faster than usual. 

Post Race IHOP 

Please excuse my pastiness. I hope I didn't blind any of you readers.


Overall I really enjoyed this race and the course. The previous Xterra races were in locations that had recent fires and so the courses were burned and very dusty. The Black Mountain course was very green and pleasant. The weather couldn't have been any more perfect with cloud cover all day and temps in the 50's. My race went excellent and I am very happy with the end result. I was able to run at a very good pace and even though some hills I had to stop and power walk up, I didn't ever get to the point of death marching up the hills. I can see a definite progress and improvement in my abilities. It is always nice to see positive results in all the training that I have suffered through. Even though my race plans went all awry I still was able to adapt and overcome.

Next up is the local Apple Valley Bunny Run this Saturday which will help get me ready for the OC Half Marathon on May 4th.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Xterra Black Mountain Race This Weekend

As always, I am very excited for races. That is probably why I plan and sign up for so many. It really keeps me motivated to keep training hard. This Sunday is the Xterra Black Mountain Trail Run 16K (10 mile) race in San Diego. This will be my first time running this race. The last couple of years I have ran in the Xterra Lake Las Vegas Trail run that is usually on the same weekend. But because the race in Las Vegas switched the trail run to a Saturday and the triathlon to the Sunday I would not be able to make it. There will be plenty of other reasons to go to Las Vegas another time. The Black Mountain race was not my first choice, but I have no doubts that a weekend in San Diego will be equally as awesome.

 This race is described as the fastest Xterra race in the SoCal series. This is mostly because it doesn't have the crazy amount of incline as the others but it still is going to be very hard. Especially the last 3 miles, where it is a very long grueling climb up to the finish. With that in mind I have trained for both speed and running uphill on exhausted legs. So hopefully I have done enough to prepare for this race.

My "A" Goals

Finish with a 9:30 min/mile pace or better.
Finish in top third of my Age Group.

My "B" Goals

Finish with a 10:30 min/mile pace or better.
Finish in top half of my Age Group.

The reason I am using pace as a goal is because I don't know the exact course distance. Some parts of the website show it as 15k course and other parts 16k. So instead of being bummed out that I didn't make a certain time, I figured I will go by pace. I also have a couple of unofficial goals that I will share after the race in my recap.

What is the farthest you have traveled to participate in a race?
This will be my farthest to date at 2.5 hrs/160 miles away.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Recap

The month of March flew by real fast for me. Overall I believe I had a good month of running and training. I have started incorporating a little more strength training and put some more time in on the stationary bike. I even started off the month with the Quest of Quests which was a 24 mile hike. Here are the numbers for March.

March Stats (running only)

Total Miles - 58.4
Longest Run - 9.08
Total Time - 10:28:53 (hrs:mins:secs)
Elevation Gain - 5,014 ft

January Stats
February Stats

March Races

March 16 - Sheriff's 10k Trail Run (recap)

Sheriff's 10k

March Things of Note

I did a 24 mile Quest of Quests hike earlier in the month. I also gave up looking for my bicycle air pump so I went ahead and bought a new one. So my mountain bike is ready now and I can't wait to get some rides in. My Son's little league games and practices have started. Woo-hoo!  I love baseball and I always look forward to this time of year.
Quest of Quests
Go Yankees!


March saw my overall running mileage drop a little. This was mostly because I took some recovery time off after the 24 mile hike and the 10k race. The last week of the month was also bad week of training. Even though my total mileage was down, I believe the quality of the miles increased. This is because my long runs have been getting longer and my total elevation gain has increased. 


I have signed up for one race in April. The Xterra Black Mountain Trail Run 16k on the 13th. I also have a local Bunny Run 10k that I would like to go to but will be a game day decision. If the weather cooperates I will take my mountain bike out for a couple of rides during the weekends, which I am totally looking forward to. Other than that it should be a good month of racing and training.

Tell me about your favorite thing that happened in March.