Who Likes Haiku?

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Three and a half miles
Acclimating myself to
Regular running

I relaxed and cruised
Trying to take it easy
No, I swear I did

The Tenderloin 'hood
Is sooooo shady, yet there's still
million dollar homes

I'm not sure why, but
I feel it in my quads more
Muscle burn is good

Also walked 4 miles
In my Vibrams; figured I'd
switch it up a bit

While wearing spandex
You let out a raucous fart;
Does it bubble out?

That's all I got. Side note: met up with Gregory from Racevine for lunch today. Talkin' shop, making some plans, etceteras. Good times.

Have a great hump day!


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That's right, babies: I officially shaved about 3:30 off my 5k time in today's San Francisco Marathon 5k!


I gotta tell ya, I ran my ass off today. I went out there and ran about as quickly and as hard as I could; and although I didn't break 30:00, I'm pleased as punch with my result.

It was perfect weather to run hard: it was gloomy and cool—about 58°, cloudy and humid. I got to the race, did my warm-up (dynamic) stretches and found a comfy spot at the starting corral. From the jump to the end, everything felt right. My cardio felt good, my legs felt good, my cadence felt good; in addition, I felt very comfortable passing through the crowd and maintaining my pace. I believe there's a bit of an art to finding the right place to start in a non-wave, shorter (5k) race. If you're too far back, you'll have to wade through a lot of people. If you're too far up front, you'll get trampled by people that churn out -7 minute miles. Today I felt like I found the right place.

Like I said, I am happy. I do have one major gripe, however: although we wore timing chips, we never passed over a starting line chip sensor. It was actually kinda weird. We initially all gathered behind what appeared to be a starting sensor. Then, oddly, 5 minutes before the gun, they had us all walk forward about 60 yards or so. I noticed as we walked that we stepped over what (again) looked like the start line sensor. It was confusing—we were all wondering why they were moving us up, and some thought for a second that we had begun the race.

Personally, I think somebody effed up. I think they were unable to reset the sensor, or that it wasn't working correctly, or *something*. Something went wrong. Of this I'm sure. And since I was really looking to sub-30:00 today, this was a bit of a disappointment. From the gun to the actual start line, there was quite a bit of shuffling and moving around wasted seconds. Was it 22 whole seconds—the amount of time that'd put me under 30:00? I don't know. I don't even want to speculate.

So, while I'm a little pissed at the SFM folks, I am pleased as punch with my race. I gave it my all and, like I said on Twitter, I think ~30:00 is about as fast as I can run a 5k at my current (250lbs) weight. I have no doubt that I could shave minutes off by shaving off pounds. But, everything in good time.

Next up: get smart, consistent, base-building work done, heading towards October 4th's San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon. It'll be good.

The Results:
Finish: 30:21
Place Overall: 340 out of 1372
Men: 173 out of 460
Age/Grade: 43.74%*
Gun Time: 30:21
Tag Time: 30:21**
Strollers That Passed Me: 1***
Pace: 9:46****

* I still have no idea what Age/Grade means.
** THERE WAS NO STARTING LINE!!! We never stepped over a starting line chip sensor! They did a count down and we just started running. Basically, I think somebody at SFM effed up and they're hoping nobody noticed.
*** As historically proven, getting strollered doesn't really bother me too much. What bothered me about this one is that she (unlike other stroller pushers that pass me) didn't look like an Iron Man finisher, and yet she didn't really seem to be trying hard. Sorta humbling.
**** My Nike+ says my pace was 9:13. Then again the Nike+ is pretty inaccurate—it thinks I ran 3.29 miles. So, whatever.

Quick note: happy birthday to @TLM26, who celebrated her 27th PRing a marathon. How cool is that? @LosBee, @roadbunner, @audgepodge1, @kristin_running, @chicrunner, @MarathonMaritza, @bicoastalite, @runnersrambles, a few other folks and I all met up at Gordon Biersch after the race to celebrate. Good times.

Why I Love California (in 4 Miles or Less)

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I've heard stories of other runners getting heckled by passing pickup trucks; I've personally walked through the lobby of hotels while traveling and gotten strange looks from guests and bellmen about my running clothes (and these are just normal, standard-issue running clothes—I don't bust out my Sugoi knee-highs when I'm on the road). In California, however, if you go to the hotel front desk and ask about local running routes, they just might hand you something like this (left): a map including street names and running distances, like I received yesterday.

You gotta love that. Not only did they not think it was strange that I wanted to run, they had routes already mapped out and printed, in a small-enough size that I could easily carry it and (if need be) refer to it during my run. My inner Seth Godin went on a ramble about how some businesses anticipate customer need and go the extra, thoughtful mile. But, since Seth is a biker and not a runner, I ignored his interjection and went about my run.

Last Sunday was the Los Gatos 10k; this Sunday is the San Francisco Marathon 5k. I was scheduled for a 3 miler, but the local 4 mile route colluded with my desire to stay on track for October's half marathon—I'll miss Sunday's 4 miler while doing the SFM 5k—so I set off to do 4 miles.

Warm, beautiful, sunny weather was the order of the day in Redwood City; @LosBee was down the peninsula for a conference, so I tagged along to get out of San Francisco for a bit. I swear, San Francisco is in the locus of crapitude weather-wise. The ocean, the bay, the inland area and it's tip-o-the-peninsula position band together and insure that there's almost always a thick layer of gray loitering above the city. I *hate it. It's ridiculous. Sure, I have posted many times how gorgeous the weather is out, but it's usually a short segment of the day that affords this sunshine. And all you have to do is look across the bay to see the clouds dissipate into blue skies and sunshine. Drives me crazy. Why the hell couldn't San Francisco be 15 miles north or 15 miles south?


Anyway, enough of my seasonal affected bitching.

Having grown mildly wiser recently to the ways of the run, I took these 4 miles easy. I understand there now to be 4 run-to-run factors that I can be aware of and act accordingly: surface, topography (hills), distance and speed. (In the longer haul there are more factors, like body weight, weekly mileage, etc, but the 4 above are adequate from the narrower run-to-run scope.) The route was flat but paved, and I was setting out to run slightly longer than my usual 5k, so the smart thing to do is run slower and easier. My shins were a little wigged out (especially after the last run), but all went well.

I think it's rest from here to Sunday. I'm not totally confident that my Nike+ has been accurately measuring distances, so I'm not convinced I've actually run a sub-30:00, but at this point all I can do is psych myself up and haul as much ass as possible on Sunday.

Wish me luck!

"Recovery" Run

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I reckon this is what folks call the post-race recovery run. Does a 10k warrant a recovery run? Yeah, I guess it does. If I was a marathoner than probably not, but since I ain't: yes, it does.

Oh experienced running geniuses, tell me:
Have you ever gotten shin splints when trying out new shoes?

I ran the Los Gatos 10k in my old Asics Nimbus, but I recently purchased Asics Kayanos in the hopes that they'd be my new shoe. Based on the recommendation at the gait analysis, the Kayanos would be more supportive, better than the Nimbus.

But damn if they don't give me pain in my shins & ankles. I'm not going to wear these monkeys for the 5k this weekend, but hopefully I'll get used to them in the long haul.

Thanks to @sugigrl I have found myself in yet another half marathon: The Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. This puppy is in early December. If all goes well in October's San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon I'll go into it the December race with confidence and a time goal.

Which is to say: w00t.

Los Gatos 10k Post-Mortem [Lookin' Back & Forward]

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Race #6 is in the books, and for me it was a PR for the 10k.

The Results:

Finish: 1:08:40
Place Overall: 277 out of 463
Men Age Group: 38 out of 45
Strollers That Passed Me: 0 (!)

Pace*: 10:18
m1  9:28
m2 9:56
m3 9:58
m4 9:32
m5 10:00
m6 10:13
* Both Pace and Splits are from Nike+, which looks dubious and imprecise. But screw it, it's close enough. I also made the stupid mistake *again* of wandering around with my Nike+ after the run without shutting it off, which explains the fall-off at the end. Duh. I'm an idiot.

What a fun day! This was my first tweet-up race with Twitter folks, which included: @jasonwiener, @ridgeley, @smellycents, @sugigrl and @csoto. They all ran the half and I ran the 10k, but we got some good hang-out time pre- and post-race. Such a good time.

Brief Recap & Highlights

  • When @smellycents tells you it's a flat, fast course, do not believe her. Aside from the mid-race rolling hills, there was at least 2 hearty ascents and a few downhills to be reckoned with. You've been warned.
  • It was toasty out there. Maybe mid-80s or so, sunny and a little humid at race time. I sweat buckets, but thanks to my ridiculous heat-training efforts I was able to weather it well. Success!
  • The course wasn't marked well splits-wise. At least I didn't see the markers for the first 5 miles or so. At one point I passed by two course workers that were busy flirting with each other. Out of curiousity (and to get my bearings) I asked them "hey, where are we in the course?" They were late-teens to early-twenties. The guy responded "you're in between mile 2 and 3." The girl, however, responded "don't worry—you're doing fine! Keep going!" What a dumbass. Seriously? Dude, I'm not looking for info, not a cheering section. Oy. Urge to punch...rising....rising...
  • I felt like I kept my pace—hills and all—pretty well. I felt better conditioned for this race than others, and a lot more confident. I did Galloway twice—once at about mile 5 for 30 seconds, and then down the final hill. This spurs me on for the next 10k, to keep my pace consistently throughout the whole entire monkey. Well, given a flat course.

Favorite Moment

@smellycents bombing down the final hill, passing me and screaming "go get 'em John whooooooo!!!" right in my ear—loud enough to induce a fight-or-flight response from my adrenal glands and numbness in my left ear. It was hysterical, because she had basically caught up with me even though she ran 4 extra miles at that point.

Lookin' Back

So, 10k #2 is in the bag. I like 10ks. I think this'll be my distance. I beat my previous 10k by :08 measly seconds, but this was a much tougher course and conditions.

Lookin' Forward

Next weekend is the San Francisco Marathon, and I'm doing the 5k. It's a flat, flat course, and I'm hoping to sub-30:00. I'm gonna hustle ass and see how it goes.

I will also be diligently focusing on October's San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon. That should occupy me for a good 2 months. I'm going to stick to the Higdon plan like glue, put in the miles, put in the time and hope for the best.

Big ups to all that raced this weekend. Y'all rock.

:: HAPPY :: 2 Runs and a Ride :: HAPPY ::

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Friday's run went well—I'm digging the 5k distance, as always. It does good by me. I should have run 5 miles on Sunday; however, I went out and watched UFC 100 and enjoyed myself far, far (far) too much on Saturday, and felt in no condition to run. Or, really, anything. Dumb. But I guess sometimes you have to cut loose a little, and I had an absolute riot watching the fights at Underdogs in the Inner Sunset. Great, great night.

Monday would have been a yoga night but I got walloped with what felt like a bad cold. In the end, I think it was allergies. Normally allergies for me are itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing--nothing sickly. Just sorta like a respiratory system tickle fest. This, however, was really bad. My voice was gone, I had a fever, etc. Crazy. I somehow felt more-or-less fine on Tuesday, though, so I'm assuming it was allergies and not a cold.

Tuesday: 3m

Per The Plan V called for a 3 miler on Tuesday, so I strapped on the shoes and rocked it out. Incidentally, my lovely @LosBee got me Vibrams for my b-day; they were delivered early so I wore them all day up until my run. They are friggen FANTASTIC. I don't know that I'll ever run in them, but they are amazing to tool around in. And after wearing shoes with toes, it's really weird to wear normal running shoes.

(Side Note My take on barefoot and Vibram running: If you wanted to you could probably condition your hands to play baseball without a mitt. But why? Me, I'll continue wearing over-engineered running shoes...for the foreseeable future... I like the added protection, even if it comes at a cost.)

Wednesday: Bike

I've been trying to work cross-training in more, and hopping on the bike is easy to do. I'm not really keeping track of miles or times, just getting out for 30 minutes or so and riding. There's a lot of hills and a lot of scenery in San Francisco, and you definitely get your cardio in. I rode down to the Bay, over to Golden Gate Bridge (up the imposing hill at the foot), back down through the Presidio and up to my place. My quads were friggen *pumped*, jackson. It's cardio-meets-resistance training.

Thursday: 5m Sunset Run

The fantastic Fleet Feet San Francisco holds regular group Sunset Runs in the summer. This was my first. It was a cool event, held in my normal running route at Crissy Field. They had a DJ and giveaways. It was cold as hell at the start, but a lot of fun. The plan was to meet up with a bunch of Twitter runners, but a few were late. I did get to meet @Princesks and her husband in person, which was nice, but got separated from her before the run started. @Adilemmasf, @smellycents and I waited around for them, then started up waaaaaay at the back of the pack. I think we were the last folks to leave the start (except our late-arrival friends, who were still in transit when we began). First off, @smellycents is fast as hell—she's a multiple marathoner/Iron Man-in-training athlete monster (you really should follow her on Twitter—you won't be disappointed). @Adilemmasf is also a mighty speedy runner, but she's nursing an injured achilles. They *said* they just wanted to take it slow, but their "slow" is my "busting ass", and while I foolishly tried to keep up at the beginning, all was better when they went off on their own pace and I eased back into mine. I can't do 9:15 min/miles for 5 miles. Would like to, just can't.

We met up with our other late-arriving friends (@TLM26, @MarathonMaritza, @runnersrambles, @Kristin_running) at the finish, then some of us went over to The Tipsy Pig for post-run refreshment.

The Sunset Run was fantastic, and I'm stoked to do it again. I forgot to shut off my Nike+ while I was standing around at the finish, so my average pace is sorta wonked—clocking a 54:50 split time while you're standing around stretching will do that. Based on the run, though, I think I can comfortably beat out 10:15 min/miles this weekend at the Los Gatos 10k. That was the cruise speed I settled into once @smellycents and @Adilemmasf broke off and went their own pace. I feel really good about the pace and the distance, and am ready to get to it!

Progress, Knowledge, Ibuprofen

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I've been bitching about my perennial newbie status as runner and chronic, recurring shin splints. Like all bitching, I'm sure it's endlessly entertaining to you, the reader. After another run, and some reflection on feedback from some really great people on Twitter, I think I have a handle on my own personal Whys as well as specific me-centric Solutions.

First: Solutions

  • Continuing every-other-day 5k runs, with modest weekly longer runs. The idea is to build up a base and keep it. Hopefully the Hal Higdon Half Marathon plan doesn't jack me up too much when I start prepping for October's SJ RnR.
  • Don't skip any runs. You can't build a base if you're not consistently putting miles in.
  • Skip runs if the shins flare up. No point in forcing an injury if an extra rest day puts me back on track.
  • Ibuprofen is my friend. I avoided NSAIDs because I was afraid of masking pain that might indicate injury. But really, Ibuprofen is not about pain relief, it's about fighting inflammation. Brilliant! Taking 600mg of Ibuprofen after a run (as needed) is kinda a pharmaceutical version of wrapping your legs in Ace bandages—from the inside. Again, brilliant!
  • Focus on volume; mind distance, surfaces, speed and topography. In building a base, my goal is to get my body accustomed to handling greater mileage—more volume. Miles, surfaces, speed and hills are each fatiguing factors that your body has to acclimate to. Seriously. Each one of them exacts a price, individually. Mixing too much of them together is a recipe for injury.
  • Lose weight. Every pound I can shed means less impact on my joints. Simple enough.
  • Hips and core exercises. As I've said a billion times, I gotta get on track with my active range of motion hip exercises and core stuff. It really helps.

Whys: Contributing Factors

  • Inadequate base. See soak, wash, rinse, repeat
  • Body weight. A heavy male runner—a clydesdale—is 185lbs. I'm about 140% above that—a super-clydesdale. I can fix that.
  • Overly ambitious. Trying to tack on more miles at a faster pace and mixing in hills will give you shin splints. What can I say, I get excited!
  • Inadequate rest. They say a big part of recovery is good sleep. My sleep has sucked for the last 4 years or so, but I think I've fixed this. And yes, I'm excited about it.
  • Slow cadence. This one might seem weird, but I swear it's true: a faster cadence means lighter steps, which means better impact mediation. I've read this in many places, and I have my own anecdotal evidence, but I have no scholarly research to cite, so this one falls in the "I'm pretty sure it's true" category.
  • Biomechanical issues. Like a lot of people, my legs aren't exactly the same length. Sexy, huh ladies? In addition (or maybe because of this), my hips are a little on the weak side. This causes issues down to the soles of my shoes.

I was pretty sore after Wednesday's run, and that bummed me out. But I took some Advil, wrapped up the legs and got a good night sleep. Thursday was a tiny bit tender, but really not bad at all, and today I felt pretty darn perfect. I hit Crissy Field and put in the usual 5k. Felt pretty darn good throughout.

So, all-in-all, things are going well. I'm gonna keep on hustlin' and turn this b*tch out, and sooner or later I'll shed my noob status for good.

Side note: tomorrow is UFC 100. Aside from football, mma is the only sport I really enjoy watching. There's a lot of good fights on the card, and I'm looking forward to watching the PPV. I've suckered a friend into coming to a bar with me to watch it. Good times, good times.

What is: "No"?

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The question was:
Can you run with



in your system?

The answer, as the post title indicates, is "no". The judges would have also accepted "not comfortably" and "not well" as valid answers. More on this in a minute.

My Midwestern Mid-Day Heat & Hills Run
I was out in the Midwest early this week and got a chance to run in some real heat and humidity. As I've said before, I've been hoping to get some heat training in as prep for the San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon just in case it's hot on race day. San Francisco doesn't really get hot (ever), so I set out mid-day on a humid, 83°+ day for a 5 miler.

It was hot and it was hilly. It was fun running in farmland, though, because the driver in every pickup that went by (and every car was a pickup) gave me the friendly farmer wave. You know, the hand-on-the-steering-wheel-two-finger wave that you get in farm country. It was pretty cool. I'm used to drivers waiting impatiently at stop signs for runners, so the friendly farmer wave was a welcome change.

Both the heat and the hills wilted me a bit, so I ended up walking some—Gallowaying it, if you will. But I got it done.

And now on to my cautionary tale of poor pre-run food choices...

My Burrito + Hotdog + Chili Cheese Fries Run
We flew back home yesterday, forcing us to grab grub at the airport. Well, there are healthy choices to be had in airports these days, but I went for a chicken burrito. When we finally got home I was hungry again, and ended up indulging in a hot dog and chili cheese fries from a local chain. They don't serve great hot dogs, but so-so hot dogs are better than no hot dogs.

I waited about an hour and a half before running, knowing that chili and exercise don't go well together. I figured that was long enough. And, as you've gathered, I was wrong.

I had to stop several times, which lead to unfortunate vorping and discomfort, but in the end I got this run done, too.

Dammit, if my shins didn't hurt. AGAIN.

This lead to ibuprofen, Ace bandages and a very helpful thread on Twitter. (As of right now I'm not sure how to document a Twitter thread, so you'll just have to take my word that @sheilamking, @smellycents, @timhibbard, @runnersrambles, @ncjack, @ginaharris1, @anotorias, @meechellee, @kelownagurl and @sugigrl were all incredibly helpful. For that matter, if you run and you're NOT on Twitter, go slap yourself and then sign up for Twitter. It's as great a community tool as blogging is, but instantaneous. Friend me up while you're there.)

I'm R.I.C.E.ing today (well, the Rest and Compression part—Elevating is hard to do when you work at a desk). We'll see how the shins feel tomorrow. If they're good, I'll trot. If not, I'll R.I.C.E. again.

Thursday is a Sunset Run, which a lot of Tweeters are doing. I'm looking forward to it!

4 on the 4th

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Went down to Crissy Field today and put in 4 miles in my Asics Nimbus with the Superfeet insoles. I didn't really intend to run 4 miles in under 40 minutes, it just kinda happened. I felt really good, and I think I'm ready to move from 165bpm to 170bpm. I feel better running at a faster cadence, even though my goal isn't to clock faster splits. It just feels better.

I've mostly been reading audio books (production stuff—mixing and mastering), but I should get back to reading the Chirunning book. I'm curious to know what their thoughts on cadence are, as I know it's an element of their running philosophy.

I'm not gonna lie: 4 miles did feel a little tough. I am a little worried about the Los Gatos 10k coming up. But my plan is to churn out runs every other day, work on my overall base and not worry about the distance so much. If the 6.whatever miles of the 10k race is my longest run in a while, fine, as long as I can get from here to there injury-free and feeling good.

I have been weather-prepping as much as possible for the warmer races. Today it was sunny and warm for San Francisco, which means it was breezy and maybe 68° or so at Crissy Field. I wore a long sleeve dark teeshirt with my heaviest black tee over it. There were times when there was no wind and it did get a little warm, which is good. I'm trying to get used to that for the San Jose RnR. Fingers crossed.

Totally Unrelated

In the last few weeks:
Michael Jackson died
Farah Fawcett died
Ed McMahan died
(pitch man) Billy Mays died
and today Steve McNair apparently was shot to death.

What the hell is going on? It's a really bad time to be a celebrity. Crazy.

People are Amazing

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Based on all the comments from my last post, I'm realizing that the experiences I've had with running are not at all uncommon. In people's responses I hear echoes of the frustration I've had with shin splints, being sidelined and being forever lodged in Noobland.

Some people like to feel that their problems are unique to them, and that their experience is one-of-a-kind. I myself have always gotten solace from knowing others have gone through or are going through the same things I am. It makes me feel like I'm not a complete moron—others have been stuck in the same spot, so whatever I'm doing wrong must be an easy trap to fall into.

It's reassuring.

Anyway, in reading these comments and talking to folks on Twitter, I feel confident and determined about shaking the PermaNoob™ status. Thank you for your comments!

I wasn't able to run yesterday, but I got out today and put in 5k. I went back to my Asics Nimbus shoes and put some blue Superfeet insoles in there. Dude, they were awesome! I tried using Superfeet before and hated them, but I got them again on a recommendation from the CPMC Running Clinic. They recommended I used the blues instead of the heartier greens that I tried last time. There seems to be a little lift in the heel, which probably makes it easier on the achilles.

It was a good run. I'm pleased. A little vitamin I after my run and I'm feeling pretty darn great.

Can't wait to go out running again.