MY FIFTY FIRST DRAGON…

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Click above.

There’s a short story I remember from my childhood called “The Fifty First Dragon” by Heywood Broun. Click on the picture to the right to give it a read.

It tells the story of a nervous knight named Gawaine le Cœur-Hardy and how he found confidence thanks to the magic word “Rumplesnitz” given to him by the headmaster.  Gawaine went on to slay more dragons than anyone.

Click on the picture to the right to give it a read.

Good story, isn’t it.

It’s kind of funny because my original running coach, Scott Boliver, used to talk about “slaying the dragon” when it came to running… and in life. As for Coach Scott, he truly was a dragonslayer.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I completed my 50th half marathon (aka slayed 50 dragons) back in December. So the half marathon I ran this past Sunday was my own 51st dragon.

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Talk about a pain in the neck.

It was a familiar dragon. In fact, my 51st dragon was also my first dragon. In Feb. 2009, I ran the Surf City Half Marathon and earned my very first finisher’s medal and ribbon. And like Gawaine, I was nervous as hell. Sure I had been training for months and had my friends nearby, but it was still nerve-wracking to be running a race for real surrounded by almost 15,000 other participants.

But I survived and like Gawaine my confidence grew with each encounter as I continued running/slaying. Some dragons were harder than others, but in the end I always managed to earn a new medal and ribbon. And the same as that nervous knight in Broun’s story, I too eventually amassed 50 medals and ribbons.

Jump ahead to this past Sunday’s race at Surf City. This 51st half was intended to be my warm-up for next month’s Los Angeles Marathon (the big dragon). A test to see how my training was coming along. I had high expectations, including hopefully a personal best at Surf City (this would be my fourth time running the race). I certainly wasn’t expecting this dragon to put up much of a fight. No such luck.

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“Rumple Minze”… I mean “Rumplesnitz.”

Now, I’ve had far worse races… ones where I wasn’t certain if I’d finish or I had to slog through multiple uncomfortable miles. Surf City 2017 wasn’t that bad. But I certainly fell short of my lofty goals. I never hit my running groove.

I felt sluggish the first mile or two and when I finally did get my footing and into a rhythm, my lower back started bugging me and never let up. I had a game plan from my running coach James: start at a solid pace, speeding up a little every mile and if I felt good at mile 10, then I should really give it the gas.

By the time mile 10 came around, I wasn’t certain how much gas I had left in the tank. So I ended up running a very conservative conclusion to the race, even taking an added extended walk break during mile 12. In the end, I finished with a 2:11:49… not a bad time given my past half marathons, but  5-7 minutes slower than what I had been hoping for.

So while I did eventually earn my medal and ribbon, the 51st dragon got in a few good shots and reminded me that I’ve got some real work to do before the Los Angeles Marathon… if I don’t want that dragon to devour me, medals and all.

So this week it’s back to training for this knight as March 19th will be here before you know it.

Rumplesnitz… and Run on!

FAST FRIDAY…

Hi Everybody,

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Just keep moving.

Been swamped the past few weeks. But real life can keep you running ragged (that’s a different type of marathon). So just time for a quick update today.

My Los Angeles Marathon training is going full tilt boogie as my running coach is doing his best to see if he can make my legs explode. Between speed work and hill training, I’m definitely putting my man gams through some serious workouts. Here’s hoping all of the hard work pays off.

I’ve got the Surf City Half Marathon next Sunday (my first race of 2017). Now I wasn’t originally planning on running Surf City this year, but my coach wants me to use this race as a gauge to see what I should realistically be shooting for with the LA Marathon. So he wants me to run Surf City… hard. Real hard. Hell yeah!

And tomorrow morning our T2 team will be gathering pre-dawn as we log 21 glorious miles running all over Burbank and Glendale. It’s the second longest training run of the season (the 23 mile monster is in 3 weeks) and should be a fun four-hour jaunt. Read the rest of this entry

PHASE 2…

phase2I hope everyone had a great holiday season and that your 2017 is off to a rousing start complete with an exciting list of “New Year’s resolutions.”

For those dawdlers who have yet to start on your resolutions, worry not. This is really the first full week of 2017… Jan. 1 falling on a Sunday and the “official” holiday being on a Monday kinda made the whole week feel a tad wonky. So pick this week as your starting point.

As for me, my Los Angeles marathon training got a resolution-sized kick in the pants this past week courtesy of my running coach. We’re just past the halfway point in our 5-month training prep and James informed myself and the rest of the T2 gang that we are now entering “Phase 2.” Read the rest of this entry

…HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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2016 RESOLUTED…

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Run run Rudolph!

A week ago I ran my last race of 2016, the Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 10K. Clad in holiday colors and matching reindeer antlers (of course), I lumbered through the streets of (you guessed it) Santa Monica and Venice. I had a really good time and also finished with a pretty good time (58:41), my fastest 10K for the year.

Now that I’ve placed my last piece of 2016 race bling upon the wall (time to get another medal hanger too), it’s time to take quick glance back at the running year that was.

Back in December of 2015 I stated that my overall plan for 2016 was to “take it as it comes.” Meaning simply that I wouldn’t obsess over obtaining goals, but rather just go forward and have fun. In hindsight, that plan seems to have worked out pretty well. Read the rest of this entry

…GOLDEN!

I hit the “Big 5-0” on Sunday.

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Booyah!

No, I’m not 50 years old… not yet.

And I wasn’t recruited by Hawaii 5-0… also not yet.

But the Lexus LaceUp Riverside Half Marathon was a momentous race for me as I completed my 50th half marathon.

That’s right, I’m golden baby.

It took me just under 7 years to log the 655 cumulative race miles (13.1 miles x 50 for those of you bothering to do the math).

Note: In between those halfs I’ve also managed to rack up ten full marathons and twenty 10Ks, but this post isn’t about those. Read the rest of this entry

WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS…

A picture is worth a thousand words. -Multiple sources

Earlier this week I posted a bunch of photos from the REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon (yay, free photos) to show how my race went.

On Thursday, however, I received an e-mail that there were a few additional photos to check out. I took a gander and knew I had to share one of them with you. Here it is:

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It’s just a shot of me having crossed the finish line looking down at my left wrist for some reason. No big deal, right?

Actually, it’s a very big deal to me. Here’s the story behind it…

I’m actually looking at the blue bracelet on my wrist. And written on the bracelet is one word: Strength.

The bracelet was one of several given to me by Scott Boliver, the man who taught me how to become a marathoner.

I’ve written about Scott before. In fact it was one of my very first posts on Tripping The Kenyans back in January of 2014. Please give it a read. I’ll wait.

Link to my post about Scott Boliver.

So when I got this photo from the race, it really hit home.

I sent it off to Scott’s parents to let them know that even three years after their son’s passing, he still is impacting my life (and I’m not alone). They appreciated it.

My thanks go out to the nameless race photographer who snapped the photo. It captured something very personal and very special to me.

A true Kodak moment.

Smile for the camera…Run on!

CANYON CITY CANDIDS…

10574212_1416925418529812_3006742470463802857_nJust a quick post and photos today from last Saturday’s REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon. I had a great time running down the San Gabriel Mountains and into the town of Azusa. The weather was nice (not too cold up on the hill) and some overcast skies definitely helped keep the temp from getting too hot.

Kudos to REVEL for putting on a great race and giving all of the runners free race photos and a personalized video (I’ll post that when it’s ready). For those of you who are interested in running one of the REVEL races in 2017, you can check out there website here. Read the rest of this entry

…MY RACIEST MONTH

Ah, November is upon us.

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It’s a runny month.

Which means many things:

  • Baseball season is over (Congrats Cubs).
  • Football season is heating up (Go Packers, Badgers, and ‘Noles).
  • It’s time to vote (Get out there America).
  • Thanksgiving is just around the corner (Gobble gobble).
  • Christmas is right behind it (have you seen the stores).

And November also means one other thing to me: It’s time to run races. Read the rest of this entry

THE MAN WITH THE PLAN…

11150477_476062995889424_5336102178984688662_nLast week I posted about my new running coach James and his strategy of kicking me outside of my comfort zone. Well, I got to execute this strategy for the first time in a race with this past weekend’s Lexus LaceUp Half Marathon.

Let me lay down the game plan and tell you how it went.

The goal of this race was not to shoot for a PR. In fact, James didn’t even give me a finish time to shoot for at all. Rather, I had three things to focus on…

  1. Change my run/walk ratio from a 4:1 to a 9:1 (this would cut my walk breaks in half).
  2. Start slow and increase my pace with each mile… with a speed bump at mile 10 if I was feeling good.
  3. Keep my overall effort at around an 8-8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Read the rest of this entry

ZONING OUT…

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Let’s go outside this, shall we.

This week, just a brief post about a particular “zone.”

I’m not talking about “time zones,” those things that drive us insane with jet lag when flying cross-country.

Nor am I talking about “The Twilight Zone,” that crazy place stemming from the marvelous mind of Rod Serling and the reason why you should always have two pairs of reading glasses… just in case of the apocalypse (TZ fans know what I’m talking about).

Nope, today I’m talking about a much more popular and destructive zone… The Comfort Zone. Read the rest of this entry

THE “BYE” WEEK…

This past weekend I experienced a pair of “byes” and it gave me a strong moment of clarity to reaffirm why I love distance running and races.

byeLet me ‘splain.

My main college team, the Wisconsin Badgers (Go Bucky) were on a bye this past Saturday and while I did keep tabs on my other alma mater Florida State (Go ‘Noles), I kind of felt disinterested in college football for a weekend. It was similar to how I didn’t really care so much about pro football last weekend when my Green Bay Packers were off. A little bit of out of sight, out of mind.

Now also this past weekend I didn’t run a race. I’ve got a half marathon in two weeks, the Lexus LaceUp Ventura Half Marathon, so I was just doing a long run in preparation. Believe it or not, most weekends I don’t run races (only about 12 out of 52 weekends annually am I actually on a bling hunt). Read the rest of this entry

“HAVE WE GOT A VIDEO”?

10574212_1416925418529812_3006742470463802857_nJust a quick post today and a nice last bit o’ runner’s swag from the REVEL Big Cottonwood Half Marathon.

For each REVEL race, you can add photos (with captions) from your individual run into a video montage highlighting the entire event. The gang at REVEL puts it all together and sends it off to you to share with family and friends.

So I chose a quartet of images that best showed off my race face from amongst the whole batch of race photos. As you know, not every race photo is a winner.

And this weekend the video went up, showing off Big Cottonwood’s beautiful course and the spectacle surrounding the 5th running of the this great race.

Now if you look closely at the 1:55 mark of the video, you’ll get to see me clomp across the finish line. Enjoy… and Run on!

 

 

…PUT ME IN COACH!

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Coach Coachy McCoach.

One thing that many notable athletes have in common is a great coach/trainer behind them.

  • Tom Brady has Bill Belichick.
  • Rocky Balboa had Mickey.
  • And “Daniel-san” had Mr. Miyagi.

Yeah, I know the last two are movie references. Still works.

Basically, any athlete (real or fictional) can benefit from the wise words of a good coach, someone who can identify your shortcomings and give you advice to help you become better at what you do.

I wholeheartedly agree. And that is why after seven years of running, I’ve finally decided to hire an individual running coach.

While I’ve certainly improved since the first day I laced up my running shoes back in the fall of 2008, I feel I’ve kind of plateaued on my own in the last few years and some outside help might be just what I need to keep getting better and stay motivated. Read the rest of this entry

…ONE LAST HURRAH!

In the fall of 2008,  when I was at a particularly low point, I made the decision to push myself to do something I thought impossible… I was going to run a marathon.

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Run on T2!

With very little running experience (just a smattering of 10Ks in my entire life) I had no real idea how I was going to make this crazy dream a reality. I needed someone to teach me how to run. I looked around at a bunch of LA running groups, but they were either expensive or located too far away for me to be confident I wouldn’t give up.

And then I saw a pamphlet for the AIDS Marathon Training Program (Team to End AIDS) and read how they’d train you to run the LA Marathon in exchange for you raising funds to help their charity APLA (AIDS Project Los Angeles). Cool.

And they trained in Griffith Park, which was a 5-minute drive from my apartment. Super cool. Read the rest of this entry

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