Excuse Me Miss

How do you lose a week in one minute? By not using your brain. And that is exactly what happened to me on Sunday. I was talking about the upcoming plans for the weekends in April: figuring out long runs, fund raiders and social events. We have a party April 4th and I was thinking that was next weekend. Well, those of you that have calendars and are aware of how long it takes the earth to rotate, know that April 4th is this weekend.

Not a big deal, right? Wrong. That means I am four Sundays away from standing at the starting line of the Big Sur International Marathon. Excuse me while I go throw up in my mouth, just a little bit. OMG. It snuck up on me like a ton of bricks. And this is coming from someone who keeps a calendar training log and records everything I do. Did I not realize that I was on the last week of March on my Marvel Calendar? (yes, I am a giant kid and have a Marvel Heroes Calendar.)

No need to panic. My training is on pace. I logged a 20 miler at 3:38, right on pace for a sub 5-hour finish. I then logged a 22 miler at 4:17, a little slower than I would like, but the mileage is what counts. That means this weekend is my 24 miler. A huge test to see how I will fare in Big Sur. Then the taper. I'll need to increase my cross training to burn off some anxiety during the taper, but need to be aware of not provoking an injury.

OK... I'm calm. I've been training and am ready to go. I just have to stay on course, ignore the little pains and chalk those up to end of training plan aches. Those wear off when you are moments away from finishing your 4th marathon. I said 2009 was going to me a huge year... Let's make it happen.


22 Miles into 3 Races

Sometimes there are mornings where you feel like you shouldn't go out there; where you feel like you just weren't meant to run that day. Well, that was the first hour and a half of my Saturday... BEFORE I started to run my scheduled 22 miles.

I set the alarm for 5 a.m. with a 6 a.m. departure time and a 7 a.m. start time. Sounds right... gives me enough time to get ready, drive safely and have enough time for a pre-run stretch. Instead, I woke up at 5:45, departed at 6:35 and started at 7:20. That might not be bad if I was running solo, but I train with a group of friends. I got to our starting point in Golden Gate Park at 7:20. Knowing they run a 9-10 min pace and were about 2 miles in front of me, I figured I could catch them if I ran a little bit faster. (a really bad idea for the first 4 miles of a 22 mile run). I knew I would pay for it later by going so quickly out the gates without a proper stretch and warm up. (You know the saying: Listen to what I say, not what I do.)

I had my GPS watch so I rationalized that I could go out and get in as much as I could, even if it meant walking the last few miles. So I parked, grabbed my water bottle, went to turn on my watch... nothing. It wouldn't turn on! Dead battery? It's still asleep? Sending me a message that today is not my day? I scream out an expletive and for half-a-second ponder whether I should drive 45 mins. back home and get back in bed. I decide against it and proceed with my bad idea to catch my team rather than drive in front of them and run the last 18 at a smart pace. The allure getting in my 22 miles had stolen my rational thinking.

I logged the first 4 miles in 30 mins. and caught up to my team. Our course was laid out as two 11-mile routes that way if some of us wanted to run 11, (since we have different runners on different training schedules) they could stop or start at the halfway mark. The first 11 miles went OK, but this was my decision point. I could stop at 11 and call it a day, or go out and attempt to get in 22, knowing that I haven't been feeling my mojo all day. The way I was viewing it was that I could break my 22 miles into 3 races. My first race would be the 4 miles to catch my team, the second would be the remaining 7 miles and the third, the last 11 miles. Just 11 miles... sounds good, right? It's shorter than a half-marathon, but longer than a mid-week 5 miler. OK. Let's do it.

The second 11 miles went alright. We were all feeling the distance and were comfortable just getting in the mileage, since we weren't going to break any course records today. I was expecting to cramp around mile 18 because: a.) I was a moron and didn't warm up and stretch. b.) Was a bigger moron and ran my first 4 miles at a faster than normal pace for the total distance. And most of all c.) I hadn't ran all week due to sickness and was still feeling the aftermath. 

And as predicted, I felt my legs get a little tight about 3 hours in. I was hoping they wouldn't take the next step of cramping ruining my excellent morning (sarcasm inserted). My right calf did scream out once and attempt to cramp around mile 16, but I yelled at both of them and said NO! (I needed to yell at the left one too, in case it got any bright ideas of playing copy-cat) And for once in their lives, they listened. My legs and the bottoms of my feet were sore, but I kept chugging along one block at a time. We passed a Walgreen's a mile or so later and I told my team I was going to run in and get a RedBull. I figured if my legs are gonna quit, I can't afford to let my brain quit. While I was in there, I decided to grab a payday to replenish my salt loss. Guess what, the entire PayDay box was empty. Allow me to digress here: How the eff is a Walgreen's out of PayDay on a Saturday morning at 10am? Plus, the lady in front of me writes a check, adding on a few extra minutes to my in-and-out estimated time. Just long enough for me to finish my entire RedBull in line. (and yes, I handed the cashier the empty can to charge me.) OK. I'm done. Thank you for allowing me to do that.

So, I caught back up with my team (again) who were enjoying a stretch break and replenishing on food and water with some other friends who were out there on their bikes helping us out as road assistance, with water and pretzels. With less than 4 miles to go, it was just a matter of finishing what we started. 

And, as the case always is... I was glad I made the decision to run. Many times the toughest part is just getting out there. Whether it is breaking down 22 miles into 3 reasonable distances or waking up in the morning on a Tuesday to log some before-work miles. (and to steal a line from Scrubs) "At the end of the day," knowing that we have summoned up the strength and determination, we are thankful that we didn't let a little bit of adversity (even if self-inflicted) prevent us from finishing what we initially set out to accomplish.


Runner or Jogger (Pt. II)

I have often heard people discuss the difference in the past and it never really struck me until a couple weeks ago. I was in San Francisco running along the marina with several friends and we passed a group of fellow runners. As we ran past them, one of them said "joggers on your right." to let their people up front be aware that we were passing them, which is great trail protocol. What struck me was that I don't consider myself a jogger. As Sherrie, a Facebook friend, implied: the blog is PavementRunner, not PavementJogger.

I definitely feel there is a difference between a RUNNER and a JOGGER. With that being said, we can't knock others for not being able to tell the difference, but I believe there are several subtle clues if one was looking for them. If someone is running with a GPS watch, decked out in dri-fit (specifically event shirts), chances are: RUNNER. Someone in sweat pants and non-running shoes: JOGGER.

People will often say speed is a way to determine the difference, but I believe speed is too relative. Olympic marathoners run 6 min miles which make my 9 min miles slow. As Mr. Schorr (a Facebook friend) said, there are senior runners that may take 7 hours to run a race. I also would not classify them as joggers, they're just plotting along at a different pace covering similar distances.

So after some great insight from you all, including my former college roommate who introduced speed-walking into the conversation (but that may require a Pt. III), I truly believethe difference between a RUNNER and a JOGGER is purpose. (which seems to be on par with the comments from Pt. I) We runners, usually run for a reason like an event coming up or to keep our sanity. We are addicted to it and set out to run X miles on a given day aimed at finishing or improving on a time goal. A jogger may hit the pavement at the same pace, but doesn't do it for the same reasons. We have a passion behind it that is usually directed at achieving something. You won't find a jogger out on the road for a couple hours, whereas for us runners, that's a great start to a long run. Our intent could be a number of things such as to beat a PR, to complete an event or to attain peace of mind for non-event runners. Erin (a Facebook friend) may have put it best, simply stating: a jogger is the casual version of a runner. 

Runner, jogger, sprinter, marathoner... toe-may-to, toe-ma-to. 

(just don't call me a jogger)
— I'm only half-serious on that one and typed it smiling.


Runner or Jogger (Pt. I)

A conversation I regularly have has made it to the blog: Runner or Jogger? And is there a difference? This is going to be a two-part post, with the first one getting your opinions, then stating mine in Pt. II.

This conversation usually starts with someone saying: "Going out for a jog?" or "Jogger on your right/left" when passing someone. So here we are, the inevitable question: Is there a difference between a Runner and being a Jogger? Feel free to express your thoughts on why there is a difference or lack of. GO!

FYI: If the opportunity arises, some of your comments may appear in Pt. II as support for either side.


Let's Run 20

This past weekend was our group's 20 mile run. With several of us less than 2 months from Big Sur and one of us fortunate enough to get in to Tokyo, it was going to be a great gauge for our training to date.

With a 6:30 am start time, I pulled up and only saw two other runners. With our lovely coach side-lined due to illness and our #2 also at home nursing some aches, it was going to be a challenging run without thinking of the 20 miles ahead of us. But the sun was shining at the corner of Noe and Market in San Francisco, and within moments, a pair of runners came around the corner followed by another down the hill. We were now a strong group of 6 ready to conquer the pavement.

The run started off well and a casual split with our varying paces set the tone for the day. It's always nice to know that if you are feeling "speedy" or "steady," you can run at your desired pace. I stayed in the middle with a couple other runners (Dare I say the Three Musketeers? I dare not.) We were later joined by another runner turning us into a pack of 4. Close to mile 8, our coach was nice enough to brave the morning cold and provide some water, snacks, and much appreciated moral support. She would also be there at mile 13 on the switch-back and I'll have to say, she had probably the best bananas known to man. It's funny how something can taste so darn delicious after 13 miles.

I don't know if it was the super strong banana power, but around mile 14, I felt an energy boost and drifted slightly ahead of our group of 3. (our fourth musketeer felt the energy of Tokyo earlier and sped off which is fabulous considering he is 2 weeks away from glory, Tokyo style) My energy boost would last for a couple miles and I made sure to slow my pace so that we could finish the last 3-4 miles in close proximity; we would require mutual support for the last leg.

After finishing our over 3 and half mile tour of the city, we came upon our end meeting point at Peet's Coffee. Several of us enjoyed a warm cup 'o' joe and some pastries, I, myself enjoying a large cup of orange juice. Or as I told the Peet's employee: "the largest cup you got." Yes, that is my vocabulary after 20 miles. If he had poured it into a bucket, I probably would have poked a hole at the bottom and stood under it.

The 20 miles felt great and the company afterwards topped it off. It was nice to catch up with another 3 runners that ran 10 miles that morning and decided to start and end near us so that our paths might cross. The nice surprises that come at the end of a long run, aren't always
fitness related. Run Strong my friends.


Review: We Are Girls Who Love To Run

When I started my blog, one of the early followers was a fellow blogger named Brianna K. Grant. (balancedsteps.blogspot.com) Shortly after, I began to follow her blog and was entertained with stories of her path as an accomplished writer, runner and mother. When she asked, I was more than happy to read and review her award winning Children's Book:

We Are Girls Who Love To Run
Somos Chicas y A Nosotras Nos Encanta Correr

Written by Brianna K. Grant
Illustrated by Nicolas A. Wright

The first thought, based on the title, may be that the book covers the steps of young runners. Although that may be partially true, it wouldn't do justice to the entire book. Brianna covers a wide spectrum of experiences of several young girls who are bonded not only by their love of running, but share a strong confidence in their daily lives. From staying healthy, to chores, to a friend moving; Brianna is able to start off each page with an "I am..." empowering statement that exudes personal strength not only from the girls in the story, but for the reader. She then expands on that initial statement with child-hood familiarity which will allow the young girl reading it to be drawn in or to reach the inner feelings of the adult reading it to the child.

Not only is We Are Girls Who Love To Run a bilingual book with a full Spanish translation inside, it is beautifully written and chalk full of moments that a child can relate to or experience for the first time along with instill confidence in their daily lives. If you would like to learn more or purchase a copy, please visit the link below:


Being a bilingual book, I felt it would be only proper to include the review in Spanish. Please enjoy:

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Cuando commencé mi blog, una de mis seguidoras fue una chica del mismo tipo llamada Brianna K. Grant. (balancedsteps.blogspot.com) Dentro de poco tiempo commencé a seguir el blog de ella y me entretuvoe con su historia de camino como escritor, corredor y madre. Estuve encantado cuando me pidio que leyera y revisara su aclamado libro de niños:

We Are Girls Who Love To Run
Somos Chicas y A Nosotras Nos Encanta Correr

Escrita por Brianna K. Grant
Ilustrada por Nicolas A. Wright

El primer pensamiento basado en el título, puede ser que el libro cubre los pasos de corredores jovenes. Aunque pueda ser parcialmente verdadero, esto no haria justicia al libro. Brianna cubre un espectro muy amplio de varias muchachas jovenes que estan unidas no solo por su amor de correr, pero comparten una confianza fuerte en sus vidas diarias. De quedarse sanas, a tareas, a una amistad que cambia. Brianna es capaz de comenzar cada paginá con “Soy” la cual exude una fuerza personal no sólo para las muchachas en la historia pero para el lector. Ella entonce amplía aquella declaración inicial con una familiaridad de juventud la cual permitirá que la joven que lee esto alcance los sentimientos del adulto que lee esto al niño. 

No solo es Somos Chicas y A Nosotras Nos Encanta Correr un libro bilingüe con traducción en español, pero esta llena de escrituras maravillosas y momentos con los cuales un niño puede experimentar y por primera vez infundir confianza en su vida diaria. Si a usted le gustaria aprender más o comprar una copia, visite el eslabón abajo: