2008 Training: Year in Review

Taking a look back at my training log for 2008, it is clear where I began my path to injury through over-training and lack of cross-training. By reviewing where I went wrong, it will allow me (and hopefully you) to avoid similar mistakes that may lead to common running injuries.

I started off 2008 strong. I was running at least 3 times a week — Monday with Adidas Urban Run Club, Wednesday with Nike Run Club and Saturday with my long distance running group. In January, I was logging around 20+ miles a week and feeling good. February brought similar numbers, but the mid-week runs grew longer consisting of 8-12 miles on Mondays and Wednesdays. March is where it looks like I hit my peak, logging 25-30+ miles a week with my pace decreasing in min. per mile. It was around April where I started to feel burned out and it carried through to May where for those two months, my weekly mileage dropped below 20 per week with some cases of shin-splints and heavy legs. (early signs of trouble)

With a full marathon around the corner in early August, I used the long runs on Saturdays as building blocks, but limited the mid-week runs. Here is where the problems came full circle and showed their ugly head... with my mileage increasing on Saturdays to 17-20 in a single run, I changed my mid-week runs to rest days rather than switching to a low impact cross training session. I could feel the strain on my legs and would feel the repercussions for the remainder of the year.

Post marathon I kept my mileage modest through August and September, logging 10+ miles per week. However, my IT Band started to bother me on some hills and longer runs early on and would limit my strength. I took the entire month of October off (minus a half-marathon 10/5) to see if I could recover through rest. With a half marathon in early November, I decided to walk the majority of it and try to avoid aggravating the IT Band. In order to recover from my IT Band ailments, I decided to continue my rigorous stretching along with use of the foam roller, but decided to start from scratch in miles. This is where I went back to the basics I was taught in my original marathon training program and began the road to recovery.

I started with an easy 3 miles one week, then 5 the next, then 8 and so on until I built a strong base. I worked in some cross training and light weight lifting to keep me fit on off days and now I'm feeling fully recovered from IT Band issues and slowly building up my weekly mileage conservatively. I should roll right into 2009 with high hopes for the year. By reviewing where I went wrong in 08 with over-training, I can learn to avoid similar mistakes with the new year. It's always best to keep a running log so that you can monitor where you are feeling strong and where your body may be telling you to ease up. I purchased a monthly desk-top calendar from my local dollar store and it works out great.

Here is to a healthy training schedule in 2009. Have any success (or stumbles) in 2008 you'd like to share? 


2008 Events: Year in Review

With 2008 running down to a halt, I'd like to look back at the year and review the highlights along with look at areas for improvement. 2009 is a year filled with running hopes and dreams, so now is a great time to look back and learn.

2008 was to date my busiest year event wise. I participated in 5 events, 3 half marathons, 1 full marathon, and a single 10k.

Kaiser Half (Feb.): Not time focused, ran with 2 friends and felt strong. Enjoyed the pouring rain along Great Highway for the last 3 miles.
Adjustments for 2009: Focus on time, shooting for 1:45 or sub 1:59

Newsom Stadium to Stadium 10k (June): First 10k, from Giants AT&T Park to 49ers Candlestick Park. Finished a little over an hour, but enjoyed the distance and will look to run again next year.
Adjustments for 2009: Focus on a sub 60 min finish along with setting pace to run full distance without stopping.

RunSF Full Marathon (August): Started off strong and on pace for strong finish. Hit obstacles at mile 14 and never recovered through remaining 11 miles, causing a slower than expected finishing time. However, felt strong and finished with a PR.
Adjustments for 2009: Train better to plan for a negative split and repeat or improve the pace of the first half.

San Jose Half Marathon (Oct): Overall my favorite local race. Had a time goal set but IT Band injury limited my training before hand and affected finishing time.
Adjustments for 2009: improve quality level of training to avoid injury and set PR along with beat Lisa Kim (long, but funny story).

US Half Marathon (Nov): IT Band still a factor, ran with no time goal and walked majority of the hills to avoid aggravating IT Band.
Adjustments for 2009: Not sure if I will run this event again. It included a number of hills and I wasn't overly impressed with the organization. If I run it again, it may be used as a training run with no time goal.

So that sums up the events I participated in and adjustments I need to make to improve in 2009. Later in the week, I'll be looking at my training log to see where I need to make alterations and what may have caused injury throughout the year.

If you'd like to share some 2008 events you enjoyed or disliked, please share in the comments. Run Strong.


FREE Nike Treadmill Workout

Recently Updated: Sorry everyone - the download code expired April of 2009. Maybe they'll issue new ones for 2010, if so I'll post again. Thanks for reading.

Back in August, the Nike Human Race took place and Nike was handing out FREE 30-minute coached workout on the treadmill. If you shoot me an e-mail (pavementrunner@gmail.com), I'd love to send you the download code as a Holiday Present.

It includes coached instructions to complete a 30-minute workout on a treadmill. Basically, there is a gentlemen that instructs you how to adjust the settings on the treadmill with music clips in-between to keep you going. It starts with an easy warm-up, a gradual progression in speeds based on your ability and suggested incline percentages (BONUS: It includes a session of speed intervals set to techno music).

If you are an advanced runner, this may not be ideal, but it may be something new to try if the weather outside isn't cooperating. This may be a great start for beginners to. I have plenty and would love to give a little something back. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Holiday.

I'll be running 5 miles tomorrow morning... care to join me in spirit? It's a great way to start off the day and gives you plenty of reason to relax and enjoy some holiday food.


Winter Tactics

It's always a tough thing to stay motivated during the winter. Whether it is the dark evenings, the busy holiday rush, or the cold mornings that seem like they are all trying to tell you not to run. So how do you maintain your level of fitness that you worked so hard to develop all summer/fall during this time of year?

Well, if you are fortunate enough to have a gym near you and can afford the monthly installments, then it might be life in the treadmill for a couple months. Some people loathe the treadmill or "dreadmill" for various reasons: lack of scenery, sense of running and not going anywhere or plain and simply put "it just doesn't compare to the feeling of an outdoor jaunt." But maybe this is your chance to mix it up. If you have never run speed intervals, this could be a great place to try them out. Most treadmills have distance and speed displays so why not try doing some variation of a speed interval? This is perfect if you don't like being at the gym for extended periods if time since you can keep the time short, but get a good workout when the weather isn't cooperating. Various intervals (link) can be easily tracked on the treadmill.  This is also a great chance to work in some cross training on your non-running days.  Hop on the bike, elliptical, or try a core workout to strengthen your running form.

If the gym isn't possible (weather permitting) lunch runs are always a possibility. With a 60 min lunch break, factor in 10 min to change before and after leaving you 40 mins which could be a 20-30 minute run and 10-20 mins to eat. If a shower is not available at work (probably for the majority) then baby wipes are always helpful. Here is a link from Runner's World that also has some great tips for mid-day runs. .

But I agree, nothing beats the open outdoors and getting in some serious miles under your belt. Over the weekend it was around 40 degrees in San Francisco and I was scheduled to run 10 miles. I had little sleep and with the cold, I was not looking forward to the run. If there was a magic time machine I probably would have wound back time and stayed in bed. But fortunately there was no such thing so I ended up running 12 miles... that's right 2 more than I was originally scheduled to run and it was fantastic. Afterwards, I was glad that I woke up early and got in my morning run. My legs were stiff and I was cold when we originally started, but about 10 minutes in I was nice and warm and starting to break a sweat. After that it was clear sailing. Sometimes the right attire to stay comfortable in cold weather is all you need to get out there. After that let your love of running handle the rest. Once you get going, you'll be glad you're out there.

Of course that is easily said since we don't get snow in the Bay Area. For those of you in colder weather or the snow, my thoughts are with you... Feel free to share your advice or experiences in the comments.


Planning for 2009

With only a couple weeks before 2009, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pencil out next year's race calendar. With the cost of registration fees increasing as race day gets closer, it always helps to save a few dollars by registering in advance.

Here is how I am planning 2009:

Print out a Calendar (Link)
Let's be green and try to use the back side of scratch paper for now. We can move it to it's final position later since there may be a lot of scratching out and erasing initially.

Choose the Events:
I usually pick one race a month, regardless of if you think you'll be ready. When I say 'pick' I don't mean register, think of it as a wish list. If you could race that month, which would it be. Be practical and think local for the majority but don't be afraid to mark down some that are in other far away cities/countries. If you choose a race that isn't local for the month, also pencil a local event in case the 'out of towner' doesn't pan out. Also include some Half Marathons and 5 or 10ks. It doesn't really matter right now how many you pencil in since you will be marking which ones are ideal later.

Set Goals:
If you are looking to PR, choose which race you are targeting and work backwards. I'm looking to PR at Big Sur in April, so any full marathons that I marked in Jan-Mar are out since I plan on
concentrating on training. However, 10ks and Half Marathons are good to use as training runs. If you are at a position where you can use a race distance (full marathons and ultra marathons included) as a training run, it is a great way to see how prepared you are for your goal. This strategy can work for multiple races annually.

Hopefully that process will give you some insight into planning for 2009. Remember running is an individual thing so what works as a plan for me, might not be ideal for you. Runner's World has some great training plans along with charity programs such as Team In Training. Find out what will work best for you.

Here is my current list of races in 2009: 

*In bold red are the events, I plan in participating for 2009. But am still looking for an Oct-Dec. Full Marathon.

Jan: Carlsbad Marathon - Carslbad, CA
Feb:  Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon - San Francisco, CA
Apr: Boston Marathon - Boston, MA - We can all dream, can't we?
May: San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon - San Diego, CA
June: Mayor Newsom's Stadium to Stadium 10k - San Francisco, CA
July: RunSF Half and Full Marathon - San Francisco, CA 
Sept: Lake Tahoe Marathon - Lake Tahoe, CA
Oct: Chicago Marathon - Chicago, IL
Nov: New York City Marathon - New York, NY
Dec: Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV

If you have any other event suggestions or training tips, please feel free to share...


New Intervals - A Success

This past Saturday was our running groups 2nd crack (my first) at running 9:1 intervals. We started at the top of Golden Gate park and did and out and back to the cliff-house. The first half started off well and having run the park many, many times, I knew that we were starting off downhill and coming back slightly up hill. With tongue in cheek, i though to myself: "Stay strong, don't over due it and be prepared for the (slight) uphill coming back for the last 4 miles."

Around mile 6 (as predicted in the last post) I could feel my legs begin to get tired as they were adapting to the new intervals. Again, knowing the route played to my advantage and once we ran by the De Young Museum, I knew we were on the home stretch. Overall, I felt great, and think that the new intervals are going to improve my running style.

This morning, I did some Yoga (on the Wii Fit) to get in a good morning stretch and headed off to the gym. I'm hoping that 2009 is going to be a great year and I'm not waiting until January 1st to get my butt into gear. Any plans for 2009? Share them in the comments section.


Kickin' It Up a Notch

Many are surprised to hear this when I tell them, but I train using the Galloway Run/Walk method. It was the training method that was used in the AIDS Marathon Program to teach many first time runners (and advanced) in completing a marathon. That was over 2 years ago, and I (along with my training group) still use the run/walk ratio to train for events.

I started off training at a 3:1 run/walk ratio (run for 3 minutes, walk for one minute, repeat) and have moved my way up to a 6:1 ratio, progressively over time. Our training group has decided to 'kick it up a notch' in 2009 starting as of last week. We are switching to a 9:1 ratio and my first run using those intervals will be this weekend. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I have confidence that I can maintain the 9:1 intervals for the first 5+ miles since on runs that are around that distance (including 10ks) I have no problem running straight through without walking, however it will be a new experience after that. On marathons I typically don't stay to the strict time ratio and will usually bypass a walk break or two if I feel I have the energy and am not pushing myself. 

Running with a group of people is going to be what gets me used to the new intervals and the strength to push through the adversity as my legs become accustomed to the increased running time post 5-6 miles. This past Thursday I was able to get through a 3 mile run (with a single walk break of 30 sec at 15 min) and post my best time at an 'out and back' around my house... improving my previous PR by 3 min. (24 min 26 sec). Honestly, I feel like I am hitting my stride and have high hopes that if I can stay injury free in 2009 it is going to be the fastest year to date.

'Clinky' (like 'cheers' - the sound of two glasses 'clinking' together) to high hopes and to new challenges. That is why we do what we do, right?


Big Sur in 2009

"If we were told that we could run only one marathon in our lifetime, Big Sur would have to be it."

Bart Yasso, Runner's World

The date has been set for April 26, 2009 and this week, I will be registering for the 24th Presentation of the Big Sur International Marathon. As of right now it is at 42% capacity and is expected to sell out (as it does every year).

The Big Sur course is heralded as one of the nicest/sceneic courses in the world, just ask their web site:

“Spectacular, rewarding, mystical and unforgettable” are just a few of the words that have been used to describe our events. Finishing a marathon is a life-changing experience…finishing Big Sur will enrich your soul. Please join us the last Sunday in April for a run along the ragged edge of the Western World.


A Running Adveture in Iowa - by Manny

Today, we have a guest blogger, Manny. He is a training partner of mine and a good friend. He was kind enough to share a recent adventure in Iowa. (the italicized green sections are written by me to offer some clarification)

I thought I would share a running experience from this past weekend (weekend of 11/23). Obviously, I’m no John D (a running friend), but I’m beginning to enjoy John’s travelogues and his “love of life” voice. I’m also reading Dean Karnazes’ “Ultra Marathon Man” (thank you, Lori), and it just seems like writing is something that endurance runners do to get it out of their system.

I traveled to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday to make a business presentation – at least that was the business purpose. Actually, I went to run in Iowa. A colleague, Gary W., is in-house counsel at a major insurance company that is headquartered in Cedar Rapids. When I last visited Cedar Rapids, I met Gary and he just seemed like a great guy – an ultra marathoner (he is training for the Coastal Challenge 150 mile race in Costa Rica January), who is in great shape, is about my age (Gary is 53) and has a positive outlook on life that is infectious. When Chris L. ran the Las Vegas 50K race last year, Gary was also at that race. Gary’s office is adorned with at least 40 marathon ribbons.

My business presentation Friday went well, and Gary and I had picked our race for Saturday in advance. Gary said he had always wanted to run the Living History Farms race in Des Moines, and I blindly signed up for it in San Francisco the week before. But that evening around 5, we decided to take a 3.5 mile run in Cedar Rapids. It was a cold 25 degrees (the day had started out at 8 degrees). I had packed layers, long running pants, a hat and gloves and was ready. The company has an in-house fitness facility, with showers, so I changed out of my suit into my running gear, and off we went. It was cold, and Gary runs at an 8.5 minute mile pace. Having run the early morning runs with Tom and Lori, and getting comfortable with Tom’s sprints down the final stretch, I knew I could do 9 minute miles for 4 miles, so I tried to keep up. The terrain was beautiful rolling farmland, trees and a few hills, and the sun was just setting. The coldness just gets into you at the beginning, but after about a mile you get used to it, somewhat. At about mile 2 we went off road and started on a forest trail. You had to watch your footing, and it was still cold, and I had no idea where I was, and Gary was running way too fast. I kept my pace around 9 minute miles and tried to enjoy myself. Running in a forest is a trip – you see trees, you’re on a trail, there are shrubs and stuff and it’s just not like our San Francisco runs. The combination of cold temperature, wind, and the quiet solitude of the rustling of trees and approaching darkness just makes it seem like you are on another planet. It’s heart pumping and a little scary (I kept thinking “can my body really do this – well, yes”) . We exited the forest and started running back to the corporate headquarters building. Only one thing Gary forgot to tell me – there was a hill, and I mean a real hill – more than we generally do. It was like going up the hill to the Presidio on Arguello, but it kept going for about 4/10ths of a mile. Gary slowed but just kept going. I was not going to be outdone. I slowed and thought of Lori telling me to just keep going and that I was stronger than I was, and made it. We then kept running and finished after sunset. We were both laughing. It was exhilarating.

We showered and went to dinner and we were both famished. The cold weather running makes you real hungry. We had a great dinner and said goodnight. Gary went home. I went to the hotel bar for 2 hours (hey – its me). Hit on a few women, bought a few rounds, stuck to the vodka and went to bed (alone, thank you) at midnight.

Saturday morning started early, at 5:15. I woke up, got into the same layered running outfit and Gary picked me up at the hotel at 5:40. We picked up another colleague of his from the insurance company and started our 2 hour drive to Des Moines to run the Living History Farms trail run, a 7 mile run through various “living history” farms. For non-Iowans, “living history” farms is a large area of working farms from four periods, an Indian farm, the 1850 prairie farm, a farm from 100 years ago and from today. I can’t verify this, but Gary said it is the largest trail run in the United States, and with 7,500 runners it looked it.

The 2 hour car trip from Iowa City to Des Moines was an adventure in itself as it started snowing hard and the tractor trailer trucks in Iowa just kept barreling by creating a wake of snow as they passed. We saw a few overturned or otherwise disabled cars in the ditches on the side of the highway and slowed down – it was single file for a while. We didn’t know what the weather was going to be like in Des Moines and it was starting to look like a bad idea.

When we got to the race exit on the freeway, we had less than 50 minutes before race time, and the highway exit was blocked by the highway patrol. Too many people were trying to get to the race start and the State Police just stopped traffic at the highway exit. Gary made a “command decision” and we drove to the next exit and double backed on the north and parked the car on a side road off the freeway. We then ran to the starting line on the other side of the freeway. How did we do that? We ran through a culvert under the freeway – yes a culvert with freezing water up to our ankles. It was the craziest thing I had ever done. We just ran from the car through trails for 1 mile (thanks to my Garmin, I have everything documented) and made it to the registration area with 25 minutes to spare.

Our toes were freezing and we could barely feel our feet because of that culvert stunt. We joined the other 7,500 runners, most dressed in costume. It was windy and it was below 20 degrees, and yet there were at least a dozen people running bare chested, two men ran in diapers, and some women in bikinis. People were running in pajamas, and many in just shorts. These Iowans are crazy people.

I didn’t know what to expect about the race. The web site picture shows people jumping through mud entering a stream, and I just thought that it was a joke. Gary said the race was going to be wet, cold and muddy. What, I asked, did he mean? He just smiled. Well, we ran through trails and farms and crossed 9 streams. How did we cross them - by running through them, mostly on rocks, but they were slippery and you couldn’t avoid losing your footing sometime and getting a sneaker full of freezing water. We climbed hills through brush. How did we climb them – on all fours. The trails were marked, but sometimes barely, and you just had to walk and climb in areas. We ran through mud, and farmlands of hay and corn. The frozen terrain made for unstable running and you had to stay focused and run smart – no flat out sprints or you could twist an ankle easily. One of the stream crossings was on logs where you had to put one leg on one log and your other leg on another parallel log about 5 feet apart and just walk across – it was the scariest thing I had ever done – and did I mention it was 20 degrees. One thing about running in 20 degrees weather on a trail run – there are no water stations, and I never thought I needed one. There were a sufficient number of natural run/walk situations because of the terrain that it just felt right. You also don’t feel much in below freezing weather and your focus gets sharper, and so you run through the pain easily.

It took me 1 hour, 42 minutes to complete the 7 mile route, and I was pumped and exhilarated and amazed that I had done the craziest thing I had ever done. And then it started snowing! We met at the yogurt stand, picked up our bags and I scarfed down a huge doughnut. Gary then made another command decision and said we shouldn’t stand around and freeze up. So he, his colleague, Brent, and I started running back from the finish line through the snow to the car on the other side of the freeway. This time we got smart and found a tunnel without a culvert and ran through it. We just had to figure the return route back by instinct (which way was north west from where we were?), and we did. And it enabled us to beat the real traffic of hundreds of cars heading out of the race area – so “everything happens for a reason.” We drove back to Iowa City, smelling of manure and caked mud, and laughing all the way.

So, I figure I did about 9 miles on Saturday in one of the wildest races I will ever participate in. Writing this on the plane back to San Francisco, I feel a little achy and tight, but good, and I am still reliving the race and the people. Great “swag” from the race, including a long sleeve shirt, a “wool” blanket suitable for sleeping, a book on the Living Farms project, a pottery type bowl, and a nice medal.

Iowa is beautiful farm lands and the terrain is nothing like San Francisco, but the people are soooo friendly and “honest” in their emotions. It was great experience.

If that didn’t prepare me for the Sacramento marathon in 2 weeks (12/07/09), I don’t know what will.

Thank you Manny for sharing this wonderful adventure... The weekend of 12/7, Manny and some fellow runners will be in Sacramento conquering another 26.2 miles... wish them luck.


2008 Run Wild for a Child

It is Thanksgiving weekend and you survived pounds of turkey with all the sides and shopping on black friday... what better way to re-coup then to RUN WILD FOR A CHILD!

This sunday in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the 24th annual Thanksgiving weekend Run/Walk is taking place to support the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive. 

There is Race Day Registration, so it's not too late!!

Event includes:
10k Run or Walk
5k Toy Costume Contest (with 1-10 prizes)

Sunday, Novemeber 30, 2008
8:30 am at Golden Gate Park

Register Online (before 11am on 11/27) • BenefitsCourse Map • Volunteer


Surprise, Surprise

There are many benefits to going out for a few miles on a Sunday (or any other day). Often it is to think about the week past and the one quickly approaching and sometimes it is to listen to a recently downloaded play list in search of the next 3 minute surge to come through the headphones. But lately, Sundays have been about football. (NFL style)

Running on the treadmill while watching the 10am game has been a recent discovery since I mostly pound the pavement on the actual pavement outside. But getting some miles done on the treadmill and watching the game is pretty fun. You get lost in what is going on and the next thing you know you've been running for 3 miles.

Yesterday during the Cowboys/49ers game I had planned to get in 5 miles, but with Tony Romo and Jason Witten being on my Fantasy Football Team, I was a little more invested, and wound up reaching 5 miles with some extra energy to burn. So I decided to run a little bit longer. I increased the speed and got in an added 1.3 miles for 6.3 total for the day.

If I had decided to sleep in, I would have missed out on the planned 5 miles along with doing my longest run in the last 3 weeks. Surprise, surprise. Sometimes when we go out for a run, we can surprise ourselves and accomplish more than our scheduled maintenance run. So next time you are considering skipping your next jaunt, be like Nike and just do it, you may be in for a treat.

Green Bonus: this weeks trips to the gym were all done on foot with zero emissions. (other than my voice saying, "damn, it's cold.")


Run and Be Productive

Since I stayed up late to watch a movie, I didn't feel like a 5am wake up call. So I hit the snooze and decided to wake up at 6 for a shorter distance run. I considered sleeping in completely and just waking up in time to go to work, but I needed to run an errand before work and that's what I did... literally. I RAN and did my errand.

I needed to return the DVD that I watched until midnight the following morning, so I worked it into my run. The store was less than a mile away so I ran there, dropped off the movie, then continued to get in a 2.5 mile run and the best thing is I did it with zero emissions and burned (plus or minus) 250 calories. Now that's being productive.

Just imagine if everyone walked, ran, or rode their bike once a week for an errand. (I also rode my bike last night to pick up some vegetables for dinner.) Of course we can't do that if we are stocking up at Costco or Target, but maybe when we need to pick up a small item that can be easily carried in hand or small backpack. Not only will we work in some exercise, we can reduce our carbon footprint.

Give it a try next time you have a chance or share in the comments some suggestions and how you've done your part to reduce our CO2 output


Running with (or without) a Purpose

I was listening to the radio this morning and one of the hosts said that his method to quit smoking was to wear running shoes and any time he had the urge to smoke, he would go run a couple miles.

It then lead me to think about how much running can clear your mind. Many people consider running to be a stress reliever and I would have to agree that this is the case more often than not. When I run and I have something on my mind, one of two things usually happen:

1. I'll enjoy the time spent on the road free of thoughts other than concentrating on my pace and distance. Completely clear my mind of all the day's clutter and enjoy the music on my iPod and the beauty of being outside. Almost as if entering a meditative state (but with clothes that wick and body glide).

2. I'll end up running and over-analyze what is bothering me until I come up with a course of action to resolve it. This is sometimes the best. The miles fly by without realizing that you have just ran for the past hour and it ends up the best of both worlds. Getting your miles in and coming up with a solution to a problem.

Either way, running is not only a part of living a healthy lifestyle, it gives you an opportunity to think about things that you may be too busy to think about during the course of your normal day. It allows you to have a block of time that is yours to do with as you please. So enjoy your time out on the pavement and take advantage of the opportunity to take one step at a time.

Care to share what comes across your mind when you are out on the road? Leave them in the comments below, maybe you'll inspire someone to lace up their shoes today.


Up Before the Sun

There is something special about getting up in the morning before the sun has risen, when there is morning dew on the grass, the streets are silent and the only noise is your feet repeatedly hitting the pavement.

Luckily, I'm able to enjoy these finer things living in a quiet neighborhood east of the busy city. (Although running through Golden Gate Park at the same time is just as nice if not better.)

I woke up this morning a little before six, grabbed my shoes and the leash for Mika and we ran a quick 4+ miles together before the hustle and bustle began. By the time our run came to an end, the sun was up and the commuters were out and about.

There is something special about a morning run. It starts the day off on the right foot (pun totally intended) and gives you a special jolt of energy to begin the day. Plus, it's only 7 am and you've already accomplished something. The early morning is one of my favorite times to run... 

What's yours? Feel free to share your favorite time and place to run in the comments section.


Nike Responds with a True Trophy

I'm hoping that this is the response to the Arien O'Connell ordeal that it seems most people wanted from the beginning — yesterday Nike awarded her a Tiffany Crystal trophy inscribed with "First place overall, women's division, Nike Marathon." (Full story on SFGate)

In addition, there was a note from Nike that apologized and hoped that there were no hard feelings. When Arien was asked if she was happy, her response was: "Yes, if they'd given me that trophy in the first place, no one would have ever known."

But unfortunately that didn't happen and after The Chronicle ran the story on SFGate, it received over a million hits, numerous comments and Nike then had a situation on their hands. The aftermath included Nike receiving bad press along with a number of emails, letters and phone calls frowning upon their decision. The final straw may have been Reebok's response a day before forcing Nike hands to make a decision. Although it may be too late to effect people's opinion on Nike and the situation, when it comes down to it, she won the Women's Division and has a trophy to prove it.

Case closed?


Guess Who Just Did It?

That's right - someone finally did what I was talking about on day one. (Although I didn't blog about that particular thought, shucks. Ask my co-workers though).

Arien O'Connell (the would-be first place winner of the Nike Women's Marathon) received a surprise award ceremony at the school where she teaches... but not from Nike. From Reebok! That's right. A competitor finally stepped up and decided to throw Nike's decision in their face. Arien was awarded a trophy inscribed with "Winner and Heroine of Non-Elite Runners Everywhere." along with a free pair of Reebok shoes every month for a year, T-shirts for everyone in her class, and a $2,500 donation to her school. Not too shabby. (Full story on SFGate.com)

Now let's get back to the "I called it!" that I should be writing about right now. There was so much detail in the events that happened that the blog was getting too lengthy for me to insert a thought I had. I shared with some friends, but unfortunately didn't post anything regarding it. I thought Nike should have sponsored Arien for at least a year - whether they awarded her first place or not. Get her a coach, put her on an advanced training program and help her become a better runner. To me that is worth more than some trophy, a title, and one events' prize money. She already was a sub-3 hour runner, throw some Nike apparel and shoes on her for a year, put her in a commercial to promote the Nike Marathon 2009 to help fund raise for Leukemia and let's get Arien into the 2:30 range. Nike missed a huge opportunity to introduce the world what could have been the next face of long distance running. At least a company did good by finally giving her some recognition along with something she can use to become a better runner.

Previous Posts regarding Arien O'Connell:

SIDE NOTE: Can we get someone to take a better picture of her? Everything that I have seen has been some weird angled shot with bad lighting... almost as if it was taken from a cell phone across the room. Help the girl out.

Alright - throw the comments below and let us know what you think...


The Fox Wanted to Run a Mile in Her Shoes

You can't make this stuff up folks.

In Arizona, a woman was running a trail near the city of Prescott and was attacked by a 'rabid' fox. Apparently the fox attacked and bit her foot. She then grabbed it by the neck when it went for her leg... the fox then proceeded to bite her in the arm. The woman said she wanted the fox to be tested for rabies, so she ran a mile to her car with fox's jaws still clamped to her arm. (I know, right?) She then got to her car, pried it off her arm and threw it in the trunk and drove to the hospital. (See for me this would be a problem because I drive a Scion XB, and I don't have a trunk - think short station wagon) The sheriff's office also reported that the fox later bit an animal control officer. Both are receiving rabies vaccinations. (story on SFGate.com)

Wow! I have ran some tough miles in my life, but they fall short in comparison to this one. And you thought the last few miles of your last long endurance run were tough? Sheesh, try it with a fox attacking your arm. I would have to imagine that she wasn't bleeding terribly, otherwise why risk loosing so much blood not only in the mile run, but on the way to the hospital? It was a trail run, so I assume she was at least a few miles from the closest hospital.

I don't do very many trail runs and have never had an encounter with a wild animal on any of my runs... come to think of it, over the summer I was running around the Lafayette Resevoir and there was a snake on the road. I'd like to say that I wrestled it and we battled it out for hours, but sadly I simply ran around it and informed some other runners to becareful of the snake on the road. I guess I'm not a hero, but I'll settle for a nice runner.

Any exciting stories? Share them in the comments section.

BONUS: Just for sharing your exciting story I'll send you a FREE John Legend mp3 download code off iTunes, courtesy of Starbucks... and if I don't have your email, shoot me an email at: pavementrunner@gmail.com


US Half Marathon - Completed

It looks like my final event for 2008 was a success. The US Half on Sunday in San Francisco turned out to be a wonderful race and as my last registered event for the year, I'm glad to say that it was a good note to end the year on.

Did I post a PR? No. Did I get to run in costume? No. Did I find a million dollar bill on the Golden Gate Bridge and change the event to the Pavement Runner Half? No. - But with all those things not happening I still had a great time. I had originally planned to run in costume, but the potential of rain meant I wasn't going to be able to. So I wore normal running clothes and am saving the costume unveiling for a future event.

As for my time, I had always viewed this as a training run, a very slow training run. With me still recovering from some bad IT band issues a month ago, there was no way I was going to come close to my sub 2 hour PR, I was going to be happy coming in under 3 hours, which I did (2:43). Some fellow friends smashed on the course put up wonderful times and many had amazing PRs. The course was full of hills, up and down, and since I didn't want to agitate any IT band issues, it meant walking every single one of them, up and down. I hadn't expected so many, but it turned out to be a nice break and allowed me to stop and enjoy the SF scenery during a run. There was a slight sprinkle for about 20 mins, but overall, the weather was  cooperative and ended up being great running weather. With the rain clouds slowly moving, a beautiful rainbow hit the Golden Gate perfectly and I don't doubt that everyone that ran, thought it was one of the highlights of the days event.

Congratulations to everyone that had a wonderful weekend. There were lots of races this weekend including the NYC Marathon, won by running icon Paula Radcliffe. Also, through the blog's Facebook page, a lot of people were sharing their weekend times, so kudos to everyone who got out and put some miles on their shoes.

Like we did a couple months ago, if you ran this weekend in an event or just a training run, post it in the comments section (distance and city where you ran) and I'll send you a code for a complimentary John Legend (song: Green Light feat: Andre 3000) download through iTunes courtesy of Starbucks. It's that easy.

(Limit to first 20 (never hit that number, ha) and if I don't have your email, email me and I'll send you the code: pavementrunner@gmail.com )


U.S. Half Marathon

The U.S. Half Marathon in San Francisco starts tomorrow at 7 am and right now it is pouring with little hope of it letting up. I had planned to run the event in costume, but looks like those plans are not going to come to fruition. However, I am sort of excited (in a weird way) to be running in the rain. I'll let you know how the event goes. Sorry for the short post, I'll make up for it. 

Don't forget to turn back your clocks one hour.


What's Your Motive?

What is it that motivates us to lace up our shoes and hit the pavement? Where does this inspiration come from to compete in long distance running? To be honest, we spend months training for a single event logging hundreds of hours to run a few as strong as possible. Are we all insane?

Some would call running crazy, pointless, and other choice words, but hundreds of thousands would like to disagree. At some point in our running history we decided to run and most of us haven't stopped since. For me, the distance was a marathon and it was with the National Aids
Training Program in San Francisco. That was over 2 years ago and right after I finished my first 26.2 miles, my mind was already considering  what the next event would be. In total, my running history includes 3  fulls, 5 halves, and a single 10k, not impressive, but my calendar  year is planned around which events I choose to participate in and where I plan on traveling.

So again, I pose the question, what motivates us? I raised over $4,000 in my first and only training program and that is what motivated me for the first 6 months of my running life, but a couple years later I'm still out there logging miles and loving it motivated by something  else. Unfortunately I'm not going to go into what motivates me as a  runner today... I want to know what motivates you.

So this is my little experiment: I want to know what motivates other runners around the world. Let's hear it, is it an addiction? Do you run for fitness, charity, acclaim, to travel or shear insanity? In the comments below, let the world know what drives you.

Need some motivation? The first 10 people to post a comment will get a FREE download on iTunes for a 30 min coached workout . (If you are one of the first 10 and I don't have your email, email me and I'll send you download instructions: pavementrunner@gmail.com )


Verdict Is In: Arien Is 'A' Winner

Nike responded Wednesday to the outcry from their ruling on Sunday at the Nike Women's Marathon. (It is detailed below in my words and still a top story on SFGate.) I'm sure the running community and others alike threw Nike PR into a tail spin and left them scrambling around to turn this into a positive for one of the largest Woman-focused races in the world. It happened in our own backyard and I don't doubt that SFGate's attention to the matter and the thousands of emails Nike received didn't have an influence. The power of the people (and running community) at it's best, uniting.

Nike decided to name Arien O'Connell as 'a' winner, not 'the' winner (subtle difference — not). She will be given the same award as the first place finisher that ran 11 minutes slower than Arien. Nike is also removing the elite category from future races to hopefully avoid this from happening again. Could they have completely overturned the first place ruling, yes, but that would have created another PR nightmare from the other side of the argument. It seems like Nike wanted to admit there was an injustice and is trying to handle it fairly across the board. Whether or not they were successful is still up for discussion.

There were some great comments yesterday and opinions seemed to be in favor of granting Arien first place which was also the consensus from the majority of the postings I was reading online. As for me, I am really still on the fence about this, but in favor of her winning — it could have been a fabulous PR story that encouraged thousands of new runners to get out on the pavement. Let's say I'm 52% give her first and 48% unofficial winner. I feel like she ran the best that day and should be awarded first along with it's accolades, but rules are rules regardless of how lame they are (and yes, lame is a technical word).

Sadly there is always someone that gets the shaft for things to be reexamined for the better. Maybe by Arien not being named First, hundreds of women runners will run the race of their lives and be named 'the' winner over the next hundred years. I guess we have to look at the big picture, cheer on Arien and all the other Arien's out there and be happy that perhaps the 5 year old that was out there this year will run a 2:30 twenty years from now and have the first place medal put her around her neck whether or not she considers herself elite.

Your thoughts?


Breaking News!!! (as of 11 a.m.)

Nike has reversed their position, Arien O'Connell has been awarded first place, read the story at SFGate.com — seems the uproar that was posted yesterday online put the pressure on Nike.

An extended post will be added tonight as an update (since I'm at work), but read last night's post below for details and reader comments. The people spoken.



Sorry, Fastest Time Didn't Win

With over 20,000 competitors at the Nike Women's Marathon this past weekend, an interesting thing happened: The finisher with the fastest time, didn't win. That's right! Arien O'Connell, a 24-year old from New York City, ran the fastest time of all the women finishing 11 minutes faster than the field and did not claim the first place trophy. How does this happen?

Let me tell you, in certain Marathon races there are what is considered "Elite Runners." These are usually the people that finish in the very top percentage of the runners. They start earlier than everyone else and are escorted by a blockade of police and observed for anything that may cause disqualification — essentially the pack race against each other. They normally stay in a close knit running group throughout the race until they slowly break apart and the faster runners emerge. The remaining thousands of people start 20 minutes or so after this and are released in waves based on their estimated finishing times. The 3 hour group first, 3:30 next and so on. This usually spaces out the field and allows the faster runners to be in front to avoid having to maneuver around (us slower) runners.

With that quick fun description out of the way, let's get back to Arien O'Connell who finished with an amazing time of 2:55:11 besting her PR by 12 minutes. Let me repeat: beat her PR by 12 minutes!! That right there is astonishing. For someone like me who finishes above 5 hours, shaving off 12 minutes is a matter of drinking one less Starbucks a week and maybe running an extra 5 miles a week. When you get down to the 3 hour range of finishing times, shaving off 12 minutes is extremely tough. Here is a bad example, but I'm going to use it — imagine a 300 lb. person trying to lose 5 lbs. Now imagine a 100 lb. person trying to lose those same 5 lbs. (with my slow time being the 300 lb. example) With Arien O'Connell not registered as an "Elite Runner" and not racing in the elite field, she was not eligible to place. Sounds totally unfair right? It's a race, fastest person wins, right?

But let's look at it from a different perspective. The elite field is essentially racing against each other and basing their pace on the pace of one another. If the lead runner knows that the person behind him/her is a minute or so behind them, then they will conserve their energy for the end in case there is a push or to reduce the risk of injury. If the runner behind the lead runner sees that they are a minute or so behind, they will increase their pace to catch up. Here lies the problem, these runners didn't know that someone (Arien O'Connell) was technically in front of them (even though she is 20 minutes behind their current location). You might be asking yourself, they should be running their fastest, it is a race. Plain and simple, not every runner can go a thousand percent every race, they would injure themselves and not be able to participate in future races. Sometimes you have to run just fast enough to win (which to their knowledge they were), especially if you are viewing this as a training run for another race or a much larger event such as Boston or an Ultra marathon. 

This story ran on the cover of SFGate.com for the majority of the day and has received over a thousand comments with 4 or 5 times as many thumbs up or thumbs down votes (as of when posted). So here we go, I open up the floor — where do you stand and what are your thoughts? I really havent come to a consesus on how I feel about it myself and have tried to look at it from all angles. What's your take on the situation? Should Miss 2:55:11 be given first place and all the glory that goes with it? Or since she didn't register as an "Elite" and run with the pack, it's tough cookies. Please share your comments below. And don't forget to participate in the vote box to the right.


Nike Women's Marathon 10.19.08

The Nike Women's Marathon (and Half-Marathon) is this weekend in San Francisco and the local excitement is building. Thousands of people have been training on their own, in teams, or with charity organizations (see Kristen to the right). They have spent months perfecting their stride, nailing their pace times, ensuring proper hydration levels and the time has come for them to put their training to the test. 

For some this will be a fun run, for others it will be an attempt at a PR, and for the lucky few who are running this event as their first road race — then I am envious of you and wish you nothing but the best. The first time you run a road race is an amazing experience. After having trained for months and waking up early to get in the long miles, this is where it pays off. For all the times you weren't able to go out with your friends Friday or Saturday night because you had a long run the following morning, around mile 11 (for the half-marathoners) or mile 22 (for the full-marathoners), you will understand that you made the right choice. If you start to hit the wall, you'll think of everything that you have done to get to that point: whether it be all the fund raising you had to do, the 5 am alarm going off, or all the running clothes/accessories you discovered you needed along the way. Thinking about that and putting one foot in front of the other will get you to the finish line. A number of things will cross a runner's mind their first time out and after crossing the finish line the emotions are almost indescribable. It is one of those things that must be experienced. It is the emotion that inspires some of us to keep running. Whether it is your first marathon or your tenth, that finish line is close to one of the greatest things on Earth. Your first marathon (or half-marathon) is something that is a once in a lifetime experience. Literally. 

Runners compete in road races all the time, 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon or any distance you can think of, but every runner remembers their first long distance race. So my suggestion to those doing this for the first time... soak it in. Take a minute before the race and look at everyone around you. Look at the thousands of people that are about to do something spectacular. Look at the spectators during the run and appreciate that they are out there to support you. Around the last few miles, little Billy standing out there with his mom will give you a look, almost as if he has been standing there all day to clap for you and give you a hi-five. The person at the water table has been out there for hours just to hand you a cup of water. That fellow runner towards then end that says "We're almost there!", entered the race just to give you that bit of encouragement. And when you cross the finish line, pause a moment and realize what you just accomplished. It's a wonderful thing and enjoy it.

If you are in the neighborhood and feel like cheering the runners on, here is a course map. You might not realize it, but it means alot to the runners out there. Every time I run a race, there are always a couple people that give extra boost when it is needed at the right time. It might be you for someone out there. 

Care to share about your first road race? Throw it in the comments section below.


The Way I Learned to Run...

Awhile back, there was a comment from a reader that was looking to take up running. With the Chicago Marathon this past weekend and the person that taught me how to run completing it, I figured those were two good reasons to tell you how I learned to run.

I learned to run through the San Francisco Aids Marathon Training Program. The program used a combination of running and walking in order to teach people to complete a Marathon. The pace that I started at was a 4 to 1 interval. Running for 4 minutes, then walking for 1 and doing this over the course of a desired distance. And that was the basics of how I started learn to complete a marathon. Sorry, but that is it. No secret formula or special training juice to drink. Just running and a little bit of walking. Sure there is a lot more that goes in to completing marathons, but those are the basics. I'm still learning tips and proper running strategies today, but simply running for 4 minutes then taking a walk break for 1 and doing it over and over is how it all began for me. Gradually, through the program, we increased our mileage from 3 miles to 24 over a period of six months and we learned the rest as we went along from fellow runners and our awesome team of coaches.

For those of you looking to start running or a different way of approaching your running style, perhaps this may be the way to go. It worked for me, but every runner is different and what works for one person, might not for another. But I'm hoping this may be a starting point that gets you out the door or back on that treadmill. Instead of thinking about running a certain distance your first time out (like a mile or 2), try running for a period of time. Start at a run for 20-30 minutes from your house and run out 10-15 minutes then turn around and run back. There is your 20-30 minutes. And instead of running for 30 minutes straight and being out of breath, take it out nice and slow at an easy pace so that you are not out of breath. If possible, go with a friend; you should both be running/jogging at a pace where you can hold a casual conversation without huffing and puffing. If you have a stop watch or digital watch, try starting at a 3:1 interval or something that feels comfortable for you. Maybe it is a 2:2 or a 1:2, no matter what, it is a start. If you don't have a stop watch or something that will keep the proper time, try using city blocks. Run for 2 blocks, walk for one. Songs on your iPod can also work, run for one song, walk for a song (songs are typically 3-4 minutes so keep that in mind).

After you find a pace that works best, try to lengthen your time out week by week. If you start with 20 min and run 2x a week, then once you feel comfortable enough, try going out for 30 min. once and see how it feels. Another option is to alter the time you spend running; bump up your running interval by 30 seconds or a minute. It is all about finding the right balance. After running for several months at a 4:1 pace, I found on shorter runs, I could run 5 minutes and still feel strong. I am constantly changing my intervals depending on how I feel and the distance in order to mix up my routine in order to get a different workout. Remember to listen to your body. If you can't run the full distance or time today, you can always try again the next day.

In the comments section below, feel free to share your running style or how you learned to run and give the readers other suggestions or techniques.


Rock n Roll San Jose Half-Marathon

This was my second year in a row running the RNRSJ and was looking at the event as a fun run due to my recent troubles with my IT band and low mileage leading up to the race. I was running with 2 close friends was happy to have the support. 

I finished last year around 2:13 and would be happy with that finishing time this year, plus or minus 10 minutes (with the most-likely being on the plus side). The course was close to or exactly the same as last year and the weather was fantastic. I remember last year being a little warmer, but with the course being through downtown, then through shaded neighborhoods I knew it was going to be great day for a race.

I started off running with my friend who was looking to PR and I could tell he was ready to go from the start. We ran the first 2 miles in 19:30 which was faster than I was looking to head out of the gates. I gave him the ok to continue at that pace without me, since his goal pace was going to be a little over 9 min/mile and mine closer to 10:30/mile. I needed to slow down and he needed to maintain the quick pace and increase it towards the second half.  Unfortunately he wouldn't reach his goal time, but he would finish strong and 5 minutes in front of me. 

The first 6 miles went by very quickly and I was surprised that I was still running at a little over 10 min per mile through the first hour. I was looking to run the first 8-9 real easy and see how I felt for the last 4 miles to see whether or not I would speed up or slow down. Once I got to mile 9 I felt my legs get slightly heavy but still felt strong and was maintaining a little over 10 min/mile. The thought crossed my mind to pick up the pace and see if I could beat last year's time. Luckily, I was able to convince myself that the notion was a bad idea that might end poorly. I stayed the easy 10+ min pace I was currently at and targeted enjoying the remainder of the race.

A little after mile 10, I felt my IT band start to "act up." I was hoping this wouldn't happen and I was 100% healed, but it turned out that wasn't the case. With 3 miles to go I knew I would be able to finish strong as long as the IT band didn't get any worse. I stopped a couple times to stretch (which is how to treat it on the fly) and felt some cramping of my left calf. I talked myself through it, knowing that I wasn't going to let this hinder my attitude or cause me to DNF (did not finish). I've been running long (and taught well enough by Super Lori) that there is a difference between knowing when to stop and knowing when to overcome obstacles. My IT band or leg cramp were not severe enough to risk any serious damage by continuing the last couple miles with an easy pace and some stretching and that is how I finished. With a smile on my face and a "I know I can do this!" attitude.

I finished the race in 2:17:24 - four minutes slower than last year, but as equally if not more enjoyable. I stretched and towled off with a medal around my neck and friends around me. I hit up the medical tent and had them saran wrap some ice around my knee, but not until after I made line for my FREE Widmer Hefeweisen Beer. It was cold and delicious. Cheers to another great run and a highly recommended course for first time and experienced runners. See ya there next year.

Notable Participants for 2009:

Injury Update:
IT Band - Have to kick the rehab into second gear — Lengthening stretching sessions. Purchased a foam roller today for added stretching, icing for 20 mins, and rest.
Duration - 1 week to as long as necessary
Cramping - simple day of stretching, replenishing salt and plenty of water/Gatorade. 
Duration - 1 day

Side Note: I received a comment from a reader who was asking about suggestions for taking up running and how to start — this will be the next post later in the week and look forward to any updates or additional questions through the comment section or email.


The Return of the Invisible Man

With about 20 hours to go until race time, on a sprinkling Saturday, the invisible man has returned. Yep, it is that time again for me to lay out  everything I need to compete in the San Jose Rock N Roll Half-Marathon. Similar to last time, but with some slight alterations, here is the breakdown:

A: 2006 SF Aids Marathon Hat (Dri-Fit)
B: Running Sun Glasses (In-case sun comes out)
C: 2008 Nike HumanRace shirt (Dri-fit)
D: Nike Running Gloves (Dri-fit)
E: Water Bottle Belt (filled with Gatoraide)
F: Running Shorts (Dri-fit)
G: Running Watch (Set to a 5:1 Run:Walk ratio)
H: iPod Shuffle (song list)
I: Running shoes w/ Dri-fit Black socks
J: Where Mika is playing with her Kong right now

One thing you may notice that is missing is my running number/bib. That I am picking up today at the Expo. There is a chance of rain tomorrow, so it looks like we may have a nice fun run in the rain.

Hope you enjoyed the Invisible Man part 2. He will be making another appearance in early November. In case you are wondering, why this is the sequel, visit the original Invisible Man here.


RNRSJ: Round 2

The Rock n Roll San Jose Marathon is 3 days away - as the Chronicle says, 96 Hours... so let's think back to October 14, 2007 to prepare for this weekend.

It was my first RNR race and first local event outside of San Francisco, so it was a pleasant change of scenery. I was still recovering from a severely sprained ankle (still convinced I tore something, but never had the MRI) and was working my mileage back up. The weather was great, the crowd support was the best I have seen since Florence and all around it was a fun race. It was very well organized and some high profile runners participated, including local NBC news anchor, Lisa Kim. (2:00:35). The top finishers were Kenyan runners who finished in just a little over an hour for both the men and the women.

This year, I am participating again in the RNRSJ and AGAIN am working my way back from injury. I feel like my IT Band is well recovered, but have not run over 8 miles in the last month and am concerned that I may have a slight case of runner's knee. But I have chalked this run up to a fun maintenance run and will be racing to finish, not to set a PR. I'll be racing with two friends with the same mind set and will enjoy a great event with a wonderful route through downtown San Jose and through some nice local neighborhoods. Last year, neighbors came out and cheered from the sidewalks with friends and families on their lawns as almost 9,000 runners pounded the pavement through the streets.

Although for almost a year I have been saying that my goal was to beat Lisa Kim (which would involve me matching my PR: 1:59:28). It looks like I will have to hope to beat her in 2009. I guess it is more nights of me screaming at the TV: "You better be training Lisa Kim." LOL.


A Hefeweisen Well Deserved...

With the San Jose Jose Rock n Roll Marathon in 4 days, I have just been informed that Widmer Beer will be at the Finish Line Festival to provide (all runners over 21) one FREE BEER. And if you want more, it's only $5. How awesome is that?

Although I have never drank a beer so quickly after a run, the carbs are going to be very helpful and the Hef is my drink of choice if the choice is beer. So Cheers to hearing some good news on a Wednesday.

Later in the week I'll write about how this years RNRSJ event will be a different experience for me from last years.

Care to share your post run drink of choice? Leave it in the comments and let the people know what helps you recover.


Meeting Dean Karnazes: The Man, The Legend.

I like to consider myself a long distance runner. In the last 2 years, I have completed 3 full marathons and 4 half-marathons. I’m also scheduled to race half-marathons number 5-7 before the end of the year. I would not consider myself an elite runner or even an above-average runner. I’ll never finish first in an event or even in the top 100, but that is not something that I am striving to accomplish. I just enjoy running and embrace the challenges in pushing yourself physically to accomplish a goal. Plain and simply put, I love to run. However, today I'd like to tell you about an individual that is at another level of running and physical endurance.

Last year at the RunSF marathon expo, I noticed that a line had formed at a booth. Curiosity sunk in and I wanted to see what people were so anxious to stand in line for. When I reached the booth, a man was seated signing a book titled “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner.” I wasn’t going to wait in line, but I made a note to myself to find out what this guy’s story was all about in the near future. Over a year later, I myself would be standing in line to meet this man, this Ultramarathon Man.

His name is Dean Karnazes. In the running world, he is an icon, a hero, a true inspiration and a living-legend. As a matter of fact, he is all those things outside of the running world. Time magazine has named him one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World,” he is an advocate for healthy, active living and leads by example. His first book Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, is a National Best Seller and has been described by Men’s Fitness as possibly the fittest man in the world. When I found out that Dean would be speaking at the REI store in downtown SF earlier this month and promoting his recent book (50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days…), I seized the opportunity to meet this man and hear him speak. Not wanting to meet Dean without having read his first book, I picked it up as soon as possible and read it in 3 days finishing it the morning of his appearance. (Sort of a mini-page turning marathon — pun totally intended.)

His first book chronicles his various life and running experiences including an ultramathon in Death Valley (135 miles in 120-degree temp. in a little over 27 hours), a Western States 100 (a 100-mile run in under 24 hours over mind-boggling terrain), a marathon in the South Pole (in negative 40 degrees) and a 262-mile run in over 76 hours from Napa to Santa Cruz. Unbelievable right? I could go into great detail about how completing any one of these events is an amazing feat, but it would not do the book (or the man) justice. This is the most inspirational, motivating, jaw-dropping book I have ever read.

Before I go into the experience of meeting Dean, I’d like to briefly cover his latest book that I recently finished reading: 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days — and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! For most people completing a marathon in their life-time is a huge accomplishment. But to run a marathon every day, for 50 straight days, in 50 different states is something that I (and you) should read about. To put it in another way, most elite runners will reach around 100 miles per week a few times throughout the year… Dean was running over 183 miles per week for a little over 7 weeks in a row. His recent book was greatly different from his first, but equally amazing. Covering each of the 50 marathons, Dean does a wonderful job of detailing his experiences and allows the reader to take a look into his life over 50 days as an ultra-endurance athlete.

Now onto meeting the man know as Karno — you could compare me to a child meeting Mickey Mouse, but as I stated earlier, I am a runner and for me, this was huge. Sitting there listening to Dean share some of his experiences and answering questions from the audience was great. He’s very personable and easy going. One thing that I couldn’t help but notice was that when he tells a story, he will often laugh to himself (along with the audience) about a funny experience. A huge smile will come across his face and it is almost as if he is re-living the moment as he is telling the story, but almost in a way that he has some sort of deeper insight than the rest of us. He has experienced things that most of us can only imagine and I was grateful to not only have read about these moments but to hear him speak about them in person. After speaking, Dean was gracious enough to sign his book and take a few minutes to talk with the crowd individually. Over 2 years later, there I was, anxiously waiting in line like the group at the RunSF Expo.

I brought a copy of his first book with me and purchased his second at the event, and he was kind enough to sign both and take a picture with one of his fans. After reading both of his books and meeting Dean in the last month, I find myself eager to share some of his amazing experiences… almost as if I am spreading the legend of the man known as Dean Karnazes, the ultramarathon man. Dean has often said that he doesn’t have any special secrets that allow him to accomplish what he has in life, just hard work and no excuses. And it’s true. There are no secrets to running, just little things that help along the way that you learn through getting outdoors and taking one step at a time. Perhaps that is the insight that Dean possesses… knowing that the only way to accomplish something is to try for it.

Feel free to leave a comment below and share any running experiences or your thoughts on either of Dean’s books. Perhaps your words will inspire someone the way that Dean has to millions of people (… although not that many people read this blog). One step at a time, right?

Below are links to purchase Dean’s books along with a link to web site and his non-profit organization.
Dean’s Non-profit charity work:
As a foundation, KARNO KIDS (No Child Left Inside!) to provide the direct financial support to organizations and programs that are focused on improving the health and wellness of the youth and restoring and preserving the environment for urban-open spaces.

UPDATED: 9/24/08 (11:38am) - I emailed Dean that I was writing a post about him and I received a reply from him just now:

Hello Brian, Thank you for writing. I'm glad that you enjoyed my books and appreciate the warm sentments you expressed in your message below and in your blog.

Hopefully our paths will meet "in the hood" soon!

Keep running strong.

Dean Karnazes


— How cool is that?!?! The running community is the best.