Saturday, December 31, 2022

Year-End Report

In terms of my running routine, this year ends on an unusual note.  I had planned to do my long run today so I could take a break tomorrow, but ended up running it yesterday afternoon.  I rarely run on Fridays.  I can't remember the last time I ran after lunch.  This morning, I proceeded with my usual short run, but as a track workout...without any plan to run on New Year's Day.

If you recall, I completed last year with a personal record in terms of total mileage, so my goal for this year was to work on pace.  I pretty much failed to do this.  This morning's track workout was one of only a few I attempted to do in 2022.  I took a page out of Vic's book and did a mile challenge.  I did it in 7:04... nowhere close to a PR.  In past years, I strived to break the six minute mile barrier...not seven. In some ways, I'm happier I managed a 7:39 during the seventh mile of Friday's eight miler. That said, I'm still considering this a win because very few of my miles this year have been under eight.  

My annual average pace slowed back into the mid-tens (10:29/mile to be specific) after being just under ten in 2021.

About the only goal I successfully hit was running fewer miles...cracking 1,200 with yesterday's run and finishing with just over 1,206.  So what exactly went wrong?

Well, I lost roughly ten weeks of training due to travel, injury, and illness.

I spent much of February traveling in Tanzania and first trip since the pandemic began, first time my wife and I visited Africa, our first genuine safari, a pandemic deferred 25th anniversary celebration combined with my milestone birthday...a bucket list item boldly checked.  There is really no way to run while staying in safari camps, so I didn't even bother to pack running gear (plus bush flights have significant luggage weight limits and much of my allotment was reserved for camera equipment and batteries)...but we did a bit of hiking (which included mountain gorilla and golden monkey trekking).

I am nearly certain I cracked a rib in a freak non-running accident in April.  The injury sidelined me for six weeks. Around the end of May, shortly after I had resumed running, I caught COVID-19.  By the time I finally shook its lingering cough, my pace had significantly slowed and it took awhile to get back on track. I completely lost track of time and didn't realize I hadn't started on a full marathon training schedule until I couldn't possibly complete it within 2022.  And then, just as I was getting comfortable running longer runs, I got sick again...with a fever....just before Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

ASICS Sizing Confusion 2022

When my wife ordered my first pair of ASICS GEL Kayano 26s in 2020, she ordered my usual size 11 shoe...and I didn't discover the size was off until I tried using them at the beginning of 2021.  What added to my confusion is that most of the industry considers U.S. size 11 the equivalent of a 29cm shoe, but ASICS lists their size 11 as 28.5cm.

So she ordered me another pair of Kayano 26, this time in size 11.5.  We just had to get used to the idea my feet would likely need ASICS shoes a half size bigger than what I usually wear.

Three pairs of Kayano 26s and two pairs of 27s later, my wife confronted more sizing confusion when she tried ordering my next pair from ASICS website.  The size guide link next to the Kayano 27s now suggests size 11 is now the equivalent of 29cm, but the Men's size guide elsewhere on the same website still shows size 11 being equal to 28.5cm.  Which is it?  My current pair of 27s are size 11.5, with 29cm printed as the size equivalent on the tongue.  I could see ASICS changing the size alignment on a new generation of shoe (like I discovered the hard way when I attempted to transition from 25 to 26 wearing the same size), but it would be most unusual to offer the same model in different sizes, don't you think?

Meanwhile, I still have that first pair of Kayano 26s...only used for a single six mile run.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Galaxy Buds+

 As I started to cross the street at the beginning of this morning's run, I realized one of my Galaxy Buds+ ear buds felt loose...but, before I could reach up to adjust it, it slid out and started bouncing on the pavement.  This was one of my biggest fears with wireless headphones, but this was the very first time in over a year I've had them that one actually popped out.  And, when I picked it up, I was surprised to discover its shiny white casing was completely unscathed.  I just rinsed it with water from my bottle, dried it with my shirt, placed it back in my ear properly, and continued my run.

I have to say that this latest generation of gear (not just the wireless buds, but my Galaxy S21 and Garmin Fenix 5 as well) have exceeded my expectations in terms of durability, performance, battery life, and ease of wireless connectivity...even after a year of ownership.  Though I initially complained about being somewhat forced to adopt wireless buds, they have worked out far better expected in all respects.  They are certainly less obtrusive than having a wired headset (how quickly I forgot that wired headsets would often get caught on my water bottle as I ran, the buttons on their in-line control would eventually stop working, the connectors would wear out so I'd lose audio in one ear or get muffled audio in both...sometimes corrected by a little jiggle, but not always). I still only need to charge the buds' case once a week (about as often as my Fenix 5).  The wired headset's connector used to put stress on the smartphone's USB port when I carried it in my Spibelt (possibly prematurely weakening the phone's USB connector, causing issues for both charging and data transfer). With wireless buds, I can now completely zip up the phone in my Spibelt...which makes the phone feel quite a bit more compact when I run.  The Galaxy S21's battery life has been so good that I have not once worried about leaving Bluetooth on when I run, even during a marathon (I'd leave cellular enabled if we had better coverage where I usually run).  The phone recognizes the buds almost as soon as I open their charging case, reporting their state of charge and instantly shifting music playback to them.  Connectivity between my phone and Garmin watch is also as easy...with the Fenix 5's Bluetooth enabled, data starts to transfer as soon as I open Garmin Connect on my phone (and my workout shows up in Strava shortly thereafter).  I used to have quite a few annoying issues when I tried to pair my Fenix 2.

Anyway, it's time for work...

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

PSA: Don't Use Equestrian Trails

 Every year I forget how torn up the equestrian trails get during the rainy season.  Last week we had a few consecutive days of rain (rare for the Los Angeles area)...Friday being the first dry day.  I just just assumed that five days would be enough time for the wetness to evaporate, but we have also dealt with unusually cold daytime temperatures.  So there are still many muddy patches on our local equestrian trails (the tunnel under Crenshaw Blvd is still flooded!)

But even the dry patches are no fun to run on right now...the ground is really chewed up.  It's not just uneven, but there are some especially large ditches in the downhill stretches, obviously carved by flowing water.  One wrong step and I could easily trip or twist an ankle.

The hard packed dirt trail on the Palos Verdes Drive North median strip is still in pretty good rarely gets affected by the rain.  That said, this latest storm toppled a tree across the entire median and into another tree, so that trail is currently obstructed.

In other words, I'll run upon roads more than trails for the foreseeable future...

Friday, December 31, 2021

Year-End Report

I just finished my last run for 2021, ending my year just shy of 1,538 total running miles...a new PR!  If I include walking/hiking mileage, I would nearly reach 1,600! Not too shabby for running an entire year within a pandemic and without any races for motivation.

But my stated goal for 2021 was to run faster, not longer.  Not having regular access to the local high school's track adversely affected my training.  I did not get in nearly as many speed-focused workouts as I needed to see any substantial improvements in my pace.  Though I hate running in circles, intervals on a track are far better than on rolling hills with varying grades.  It's hard to gauge exertion and progress without consistent conditions.

That said, I did manage to improve my average running pace (9:37 per mile vs 9:43 in 2020)...but my fastest month was March.  It should have been November.  I am also very surprised that I ended the year with my slowest month (the only month my pace decreased into the 10's...10:03 per mile to be specific). If I subtract December, my average for the year drops to 9:35 per mile.  Usually I see an uptick when I run a marathon, but I ran mine at the beginning of the most of the month was spent recovering.  And, as I keep pointing out, this marathon was not at a race pace.

An annual average of 6 to 8 seconds faster per mile doesn't seem like a big win, but I suppose it is still a substantial achievement when you consider how many more total miles I ran in 2021 than in any previous year.  I was nine years younger when I last exceeded 1,400 miles!  Of course, that's also when averaging 9:03 per mile was something of a disappointment...because I averaged 8:45 per mile in 2011!

My goal for 2022 will be to bring my average closer to 9 flat.  Is this achievable without racing?  I think so.  If I don't have at least one month where I average 9 flat, I will be terribly disappointed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

1500 Miles YTD

In 2012, I made sure to run on December 31 so I could push my annual total past 1,400 miles for the very first time.  Since then, I have only exceeded 1,300 miles twice...last year and in early November of this one.  Though I fell short of 2012's total in 2020, I managed to top it before I ran my not-a-race PV Marathon.  I set my new personal best during Thanksgiving week without even noticing.

Just before I finished this morning's run, I surpassed 1,500 miles year to date.  Took me 232 runs and nearly 240.5 hours to accomplish this feat in 2021.  Every step I take in runs between now and New Year's Eve will reset my record.  I have six scheduled runs remaining.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Palos Verdes Marathon
(2008's 26.2 Mile Course In 2021)

A big question leading up to this day was would I be able to start by 7:00am as if this were an actual race.  Last night, I didn't exactly place myself on the right path by setting the alarm for 5:30am.  When I ran the Palos Verdes Half Marathon from Point Fermin in 2008, I woke up at 5:30am...and that race started at 7:30am.  For nearly every marathon I have registered, I aimed to arrive at the event an hour ahead of the race, minimally a half an hour before.  For last year's Los Angeles Marathon, I had to catch a shuttle in Santa Monica ridiculously early on the same morning we lost an hour due to time change.  For LA, I spent an entire week shifting my hours earlier and earlier.  I had no need to do that for this run.  In fact, last night was the first night of the week I went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Sure I wake up as soon as the alarm sounds at 5:30am, but I don't exactly rush to get out the door.  I make a Nespresso latte and enjoy it with a Porto's Refugiado while still lying in bed.  If I want to reach Point Fermin by 6:30am, I really should leave the house by 6:00am.  It's already 6:15am.  Should I wear short sleeves or long?  I check the outside thermometer and the forecast for Rancho Palos Verdes.  I'm definitely wearing calf sleeves, but why am I still on the fence about what shirt to wear?  I decide to wear long, grab a sweat jacket for after I finish, and a towel to cover the car seat.

I finally make it out the door after 6:30am.  I should be able to make it to Point Fermin in time, but I am cutting it close.  Thankfully this is not a race day.  I do not anticipate traffic, I should not be competing for parking spaces at this early hour, and I will be able to park just steps from where I plan to start running.  Damn!  I forgot to grab a water bottle I had planned to sip on while driving over!  There is no need to turn back though...I do have my full running bottle with me and a plan to swap for another mid-run.  I think I can safely sip on this one without fear I'll run out.

I stood closer to the middle of Paseo del Mar in 2008 because the road was closed to traffic

I arrive at Point Fermin Park just five minutes before 7am.  It is even cooler here, but there is no fog and the marine layer only appears dense to the west.  I find my way to roughly where I stood in the starting corral for the 2008 half marathon.  Yes, I'm in the middle of the street.  There are no people (and thankfully no cars) around me...I capture the moment with my smartphone, send the photo to my wife and mom along with the message "7am is a go".  With less than two minutes, there is no time to warm up.  Does a warm up even matter?  This is not a race.  The route I will be doing will actually be longer than a marathon due to a necessary detour.  My warm up will be the first few miles of the run.  I watch the seconds count down and...

...I start my Garmin watch at exactly 7:00:01am.   I'm off to the not-a-races!

This may not be a race, but I have photos of
me 14 miles into the run thanks to my wife
Since today's run was not a race, I won't go into details like I would in my typical race report.  However, I did complete this attempt in a manner that is far closer to a race than any of my long training runs with surprisingly few interruptions caused by red lights at intersections.  I rarely had to slowdown for or detour around traffic...vehicular or pedestrian.  Thanks to my Garmin Fenix 5's ability to navigate an upload course, I strayed only once...and it was an insignificant distance.  The only thing I would not have elected to do during an actual race was wait a few minutes for a park employee to open a public restroom (I think my only mid-race bio break was during Surf City in 2011...still my all-time marathon PR).  Thanks to my wife, I was able to stay sufficiently hydrated, exchanging water bottles 14 miles into the run...a handoff as smooth as any relay baton exchange I have made.  I carried exactly the right amount of Clif Shots and Bloks to maintain my energy level throughout.

Comparing my start with the half marathon I raced on nearly the same course over 14 years ago, I actually maintained a faster pace on each of the first six miles today...though it is somewhat unfair to compare the two runs.  In May of 2008, I had not yet run a full marathon (had only begun to train for my first) and it was unseasonably warm.  Though starting that race slower, I was actually running faster than my target pace, especially on the climb up Western, because I anticipated suffering on the back half...whereas today I was just maintaining what felt comfortable.  Another reason I cannot directly compare the's numbers include a necessary detour (around the stretch of Paseo del Mar that collapsed in 2011).  This came after the first mile.  In other words, subsequent mile splits in my GPS track data do not align.

Today, I reached the 13.1 mile mark in 1:57:27 (at 8:58:49a).  If this had been a race, I would have tried to run the first half faster.  I often have half marathon splits of under two hours on longer runs.  Of course most of those are flat or downhill trending...not constantly rolling like this.  It took me 2:16:23 to complete the 2008 PV Half Marathon!

As expected, the back half of this mostly out-and-back course proved a lot more challenging than the front. What were gradual westward descents became painfully long eastward ascents.  Based on my experience from that 2008 half marathon, I knew the climb from the lowest point in Portuguese Bend to the peak in San Pedro would be a grind.  Heat was thankfully not a factor this time, but I was already feeling the elevation change as I left Lunada Bay.  And I ran into a headwind, first around Terranea Resort and again closer to the finish.

PV Marathon Finisher Selfie at Point Fermin Lighthouse

I completed 26.2 miles in 4:15:28 (at 11:17:59a) and crossed the finish line at Point Fermin Park in 4:19:44 (at 11:22:12a).  Even if I include the bio break, I still managed to do the whole 26.59 mile course in 4:22:11.  All of these numbers are better than my chip time in Maui by a considerable amount.  My marathon split was comparable to Los Angeles in 2015.  Of course, I got injured during Maui (which was also my very first marathon) and didn't realize I was sick during the 2015 race...but those courses lack the punishing rolling hills of this one.  The total amount of elevation change in Palos Verdes' full marathon course is nearly double than that of LA's Stadium to the Sea, more than double of Maui's, over six times more than Surf City's nearly sea level course.  I have not raced upon a course that compares, but now have a fairly good idea of what I might be able to do.

Only once before have I run 26.2 miles or more without the incentives of a race...nine years ago I joined former Naughty Dog coworkers in raising money for the 27 Sandy Hook victims.  On that day I hit my marathon split in 4:33 and completed 27.1 miles in 4 hours and 42 minutes almost exactly the same amount of time as my first marathon, but I ran with a pack for the whole distance and took many breaks along the way.  If I just compare moving time, I actually completed that half mile longer run a few minutes faster than today's...upon a nearly flat sea level course.  That said, today's effort (and the training that preceded it) was 100% self-motivated and the hilly run was significantly more challenging.

So was this a race?  At this point does it even matter?  It was only the 11th time I completed the distance...a PR for the course.  My mom pointed out that this is my first marathon win.  Of course, I also finished in last place...

Garmin Data

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