The Invisible Man III

The invisible man has returned. This is the third appearance of the invisible man and just in time for my third run of the Kaiser Half in Golden Gate park. Often times prior to a race, I'll lay out all my gear for the following morning to make sure I have everything I need — hence it looking like the invisible man.

From top to bottom:
White dri-fit long-sleeve shirt
Bib #2149
Garmin Forerunner 305 
Adidas 3-stripe dri-fit pants
Gu (2x) Chocolate & Espresso
Sport Beans (Cherry)
Dri-fit socks
Asics GT 2130
Shoe Tag for Official Race time

Not shown: 
iPod Shuffle (charging)
iPhone (in pocket)
The energy needed for a PR

So there you have it — everything I need to run the half-marathon tomorrow. I usually run in shorts, but I picked up these pants after an Urban Run with Adidas a couple months ago and they have now become my favorite pair. I'll also be running in a never-worn pair of socks. They are made by Asics and are the same kind I always run in.  I love running in a pair of fresh socks — there is something about a never-worn pair that feels so good. 

Above is the course map and it's a pretty fast route, so I have high hopes. Tonight, I'll be having a mini-pasta party dinner with some running friends and hope to feed off their energy for tomorrow. Be on the look out for a race report post race (and post Super Bowl). If you see the invisible man out there on the course, be sure to give a shout-out. 



My Playlist

The ever important playlist. Something we runners love to discuss. With a half marathon a few days away, these are the songs I have chosen to keep me on pace. It is comprised of mostly rock and hip hop, but I sneak in some easy listening here and there. It's funny, but sometimes I run faster when a slow song is playing. It makes me imagine a high-speed action scene being played in slow motion. Ah, forget it, you don't care why I pick the songs, you just want to see my list... well, here it is:

In alphabetical order by artist:

Edge Of The Earth - 30 Seconds To Mars
Fallen - 30 Seconds To Mars
Back in Black - AC DC
Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
No One - Alicia Keys
Hey Now - Augustana
Hate Me - Blue October
Evacuate - The Boxer Rebellion
Viva la Vida - Coldplay
Universal Mind Control - Common
Announcement - Common
Stolen (Single Version) - Dashboard Confessional
The Next Episode - Dr. Dre
Never Enough - Eminem
Lose Yourself - Eminem
Tambourine - Eve
Clumsy - Fergie
The Pretender - Foo Fighters
My Life - The Game
Too Much - The Game
Love Remains the Same - Gavin Rossdale
Sweet Child O Mine - Guns N Roses
Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N Roses
You Never Know – Hieroglyphics
At the Helm - Hieroglyphics
Lust for Life - Iggy Pop
I Want You Back - The Jackson 5
Green Light - John Legend
Sexy Back - Justin Timberlake
My Love - Justin Timberlake
Champion - Kanye West
Stronger - Kanye West
Heartless - Kanye West
Paranoid - Kanye West
RoboCop - Kanye West
Flashing Lights - Kanye West
Good Life - Kanye West
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Somebody Told Me - The Killers
Y'all Want a Single - Korn
Falling Away from Me - Korn
Freak On a Leash - Korn
Cosa vuoi che sia - Ligabue
A Milli - Lil Wayne
Lollipop - Lil Wayne
Got Money - Lil Wayne
Shadow Of The Day - Linkin Park
Hands Held High - Linkin Park
Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
Nothin' - N.O.R.E.
Grimey - N.O.R.E.
Rock Star - N*E*R*D
Lapdance - N*E*R*D
Here It Goes Again - OK Go
Apologize - OneRepublic
Get Up/Levantate – Pitbull
Go Girl - Pitbull
Fuego - Pitbull
Midnight - Pitbull
I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
Sexy Can I - Ray J
Snake Devil - Scary Kids Scaring Kids
Breathe Me - Sia
Bartender - T-Pain
Can't Believe It - T-Pain
Whatever You Like - T.I.
Swing Ya Rag - T.I.
Swagga Like Us - T.I.
Bring Em Out - T.I.
Shut Up and Let Me Go - The Ting Tings
Free Fallin - Tom Petty
Get Free - The Vines
Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
Black Math - The White Stripes
The Hardest Button To Button - The White Stripes
Icky Thump - The White Stripes

And there you have it... as you know it is an ever-changing list, but I did highlight the songs that really get me going when I need it. It is a fairly lengthy playlist that suits me for long and short runs. I keep it on shuffle and often skip through several songs if it doesn't suit my tempo at a given point (hence the length) however, I may trim some more songs down before this weekend to keep it to the best of the best, but there is the playlist as it stands now. 

Let me know what you think and of course, I am open to suggestions so fire away.


High Hopes, Big Disappointment?

With my first race of 2009 a week away, I'm taking an honest look at my time goal for this event. A couple years ago, I set my PR in the Half Marathon at 1:59. I'm in no way a speed demon, but was pleased with the (just barely) sub 2-hour mark. So shall I set myself up with high hopes, knowing that it may lead to a big disappointment?

OK, so I'm being a little dramatic with the big disappointment remark. Since the PR, I have run several half marathons with no real time goal and although I finished and ran strong races, the time was not my focal point. However, next Sunday's race will be the same course that I previously PR'd in and would love to do it again. In taking an honest look at what can be expected, (in Pushing Daisies style) the facts are these:

  1. I can run 10 min miles for days... it is my comfort stride.
  2. Most runs I can squeeze in some solid 9 min miles half the time.
  3. When I'm feeling it, I can get in three or four 8 min miles.
  4. I know this course like the back of my hand.
  5. I want to run a 1:45 or better in 2009.

So, the question is: What should be my goal time?

Since it is my blog, I suppose I have to answer my own question... I'll most likely shoot to slightly better my PR, even if it is only by a couple minutes. If I average 9 min miles, it will put me at 1:57 which will result in a smile on my face. But being the runner that I am, in the back of my mind I'll know that I can do better than that. So I'll run my brains out, leave everything on the course and if I fall short and it leads to even a little bit of a disappointment... it will make me train that much harder. After all 2009 is just beginning.


30 Days, No Starbucks

For the month of January, I gave up Starbucks. I know, sounds ridiculous right? The idea was to cut an extra 600 calories a week from my diet. I usually have Starbucks three times a week at around 200 calories each along with spending an average of $3.50 each time depending on the size.

After 30 days, I will have cut out (ballpark figure) 2400 calories and saved a little over $40. With that being said, some of those 2400 calories may have been replaced with calories from orange juice in the morning, so it's not like I was doing it solely for dietary reasons. Honestly, I don't really know why I chose coffee specifically to give up for 30 days, it was sort of an idea that crossed my head and I ran with it (pun totally intended).

As a new years resolution, I decided to give up one thing a month, rather than one thing for the whole year. I figured like everyone else, my resolution should last until March, but if not, let's see how far I can take it. I'd like each of them to fall around dietary themes... perhaps no ice cream in February? After-all it is a short month.

Needless to say, I am really excited for next Sunday. With my first race of the year on Super Bowl Sunday, it will be followed with a nice double tall non-fat white chocolate mocha. Sounds so delicious. The thought that will be running through my head during the race is: "If I run faster, I can have Starbucks sooner." And yes, sooner is a word, ask the University of Oklahoma.

If you'd like to tell me how crazy I am or offer some words of encouragement, feel free to do so in the comments section. Also share with us what your New Year's Resolution is and it's currentstatus.


To Wave or Not to Wave

Waking up before the sun to get in our miles is something we all enjoy or dread. Out on the road alone with mist on the grass or snow on the ground, often times the paths of two runners will cross at such an hour and a decision is made... to wave or not to wave.

In February's issue of Runner's World there was a wonderful article that covered such a conundrum. (Waver's Dilema, by Robert Sullivan, above illustration by Gary Taxali) It defined a 'wave' as any acknowledgement of the other runner(s) including the general wave, a nod, a hello, a hey, a good morning or any grunt you can muster. Essentially everyone is broken into two groups: wavers and non-wavers.

Perhaps wavers see it as a way of acknowledging the commitment and dedication to those of us that wake early to get our runs in. Or maybe it's a single moment where a nod or wave expresses the unspoken "shared experience" where 2 people out of millions cross a path on the same pavement at the same time. As wavers, are we too sensitive if the other runner doesn't wave back? Do we feel slighted and should we be?

As for non-wavers, there is no need to acknowledge the other runner. We don't wave at everyone we pass in a Marathon or road race. We're out there to accomplish one thing: a good run. Maybe even a tough run. Concentration is needed on maintaining pace and form. Are our intentions to hurt a waver's feelings? No, we can share that same moment of two runners passing at the same point and time in silence and continue down the road.

So there it is, a brief description of what each side may be thinking... let the conversation begin: to wave or not to wave. In the comments section below or on the Official Facebook page, share your thoughts or experiences.

Chalk me up as a waver.


Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon

This weekend, thousands of runners will be making their way to Phoenix for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. It will be in the mid 70s all weekend and be capped off with a concert by Smashmouth. The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, tend to get a good number of participants and are well organized. With 70 live bands and 40 cheer squads throughout the event, (and not to mention a Boston Qualifier) it should turn out to be a great race for all.

The Full Marathon starts this Sunday morning at 7:40am and the Half- at 8:30am, so be sure to send some positive running vibes to your fellow runners. Good luck to all and maybe I'll see you out there in 2010.


Super Bowl Sunday Race

With the Super Bowl a little over 2 weeks away, it also means that the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon is right around the corner. The (26th annual) race is held on Super Bowl Sunday in Golden Gate Park and it will be my third time participating. As it tends to be the first event of the year for me, I’m looking to start the year off on the right foot.

The course is a typical route through Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway. This may tend to be a downer for some since Great Highway can be mundane and Golden Gate Park is a common route for most SF runners, but I see it as an advantage. Imagine running a race where you know the course like the back of your hand. In a given year, I’ll run sections of this course over a dozens times. That means I can rely less on the mile markers and trust my instincts knowing which sections to turn on the burners and which to take it easy.

It’s a point to point race and includes a half marathon and a 5k fun run/walk — the race fees are minimal in comparison to most ($50/half, $30/5k - $10 discount for 16 and under for both). There are no medals handed out to all the finishers, but it does include a race day t-shirt (or upgrade to dri-release wicking shirt) and a small Post-Race Expo. Not to mention that participation in this event helps support the Koret Family House, The Harbor Light Center for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and Support for Families of Children with Disabilities.

BONUS: Yes, it is on Super Bowl Sunday, but you’ll make it home before the pre-game show and it gives you good reason to enjoy all the super bowl party food. After all, you just burned a bunch of calories and it is your duty to replace those calories with pizza/beer/chips/margaritas/buffalo wings/nachos or whatever your food of choice is.

You must pre-register, and it is limited to 10,000 participants with no race-day registration. Come out and join the cause.


The Hills Are Alive...

Saturday was a real test to see if I have fully recovered form the IT Band injury that plagued the last part of 2008. Hills, the arch nemesis of the IT Band injury, was on tap for Saturday's training run — a short 6 miles packed with hills going up and down through Pacific Heights. I'm glad to say that during the run, I felt strong and confident that I have taken the right steps to prevent any further IT Band Injuries. (knock on wood).

It was also the first test of the GPS watch through the streets of San Francisco. I have yet to figure out how to incorporate the intervals, but then again, I haven't really read the manual yet. I'll look into that this week so that I am ready for next weekend's 12 miler.

Also, I'm sure there is a way to look at the course online to see how fast each mile was ran. Right now, I am looking at it through MotionBased.com, which I have heard is more 'user friendly.' It gives me the average pace per mile, but would like to see how fast I ran mile 1, 2, 3, and so on. If you happen to know how to view that feature, please let me know via the comments section. A couple friends of mine have the same watch and use MotionBased, so I may tap into their expertise. But, here is how my 6 miles through the hills looked:

Total Time: 1:01:21
Pace: 9:59
Distance: 6.14
Elevation (ft.): +2,585 / -2,596

So, there it is, the first real look at how the training run went. Pretty cool, especially considering I haven't really tapped into all the features the watch can provide. Sorry for 'geeking out' in this post, but I thought I might share. Later in the week, I'll be posting about getting ready for the first race in 2009 which is a couple weeks away, until then, run strong.


Garmin 305 Arrived

It is official, my Garmin 305 has arrived and it is charging right now. I'd like to thank everyone that weighed in on the blog, Facebook and via email. The feedback was amazing, insightful, and chalk-full of experience.

It came down to the Garmin Forerunner 305 vs. the 405. From the feedback, everyone had positive experiences with the 305 and assured me that it would be all that I would need. As for the 405 it was a mixed bag — there was some feedback that it was amazing along with some feedback that included poor experiences. Through friends of mine I was able to see the 205, 305 and the 405 in person along with gain some insight on comparisons between the 305 and the 405.

As for the cost, I was able to find the Garmin 305 at an avg. price of $200-250 and the 405 was at $350. However, a friend of mine recommended I check Costco and I was able to get it for $159 (includes a $40 off discount until Jan .18) and it also included the heart monitor. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. The 5-7 day shipping was free, but I sprung for the extra $3 and got it in 2 days. I couldn't be more excited to try it out. A number of my running friends use the 305 so I will anxiously be asking them tips/questions. Hopefully, they don't ban me from running next to them.

The first trial will be Wednesday night during a run with Sports Basement. A post should follow later in the week since this will be my first run with Sports Basement and my first run with the watch. Thanks again for all the input — it helped make the decision much easier since it was based on reliable sources and experience. 


Tracking in 2009

With the first post of 2009, I'd like to do something a little different — I need your opinion. I'm looking to purchase a GPS running watch fairly soon and am unfamiliar with which watches are better than others. I'm not looking for something extravagant loaded with bells and whistles, but there are key elements I would like:

Tracking distance. I would like to walk out my door and run a spur of the moment course. If I'm trying to get 7 miles for the day it would be nice to run and turn at any corner, knowing it is tracking my distance as I go.

Tracking pace. On a given run, I average 10 min miles. However, that usually includes a couple 8-9 min miles. It would be great to be able to view my current running pace and be able to improve or maintain it.

Tracking the route. Post run, it would be beneficial to be able to view my running route on line so that I can see where I ran faster/slower and where I could possibly improve.

Usability. During my run, it would be nice if I didn't have to maneuver through various screens to see my pace, distance, time, etc. If multiple screens are needed,  it would need to be easy to use while running.

Intervals and chrono. I am currently running a 9:1 run/walk ratio. My current watch is able to notify me when I am running and walking. This is essential along with keeping the chrono (total running time).

Most of my running friends use the Garmon 305 (above)and I have been impressed with what they are able to do. Garmon recently came out with the 405 (below) and it appears to be much smaller and sleeker. Appearances aren't everything, especially when running, but I am open to various options and other brands. 

So here is where I need your opinion/expertise: In the comments section, please feel free to share any insight you may have on GPS running watches. The budget is $200-$350 and that would hopefully include any accessories (FYI: Not interested in a heart monitor at this time).