Hood to Coast Movie

What do you get when you combine 197 miles, 12,000 runners, 3,500 volunteers, 2000 vans and all 50 states? You get an amazing adventure titled Hood to Coast, the largest relay race in North America as it stretches 197 miles from Mt Hood OR to the Pacific Ocean in Seaside OR.

Or as Bart Yasso of Runner’s World describes it, “Hood To Coast is a must-do in a runner’s life.”  and Director, Producer (and most importantly, runner) Christoph Baaden has captured it on film for us to experience it.

Here is a quick synopsis of the film:

HOOD TO COAST follows four unlikely teams on their epic journey to conquer the world’s largest relay race. Each year 1000 teams (12,000 runners) in 2000 vans cover 197 grueling miles as a relay team, putting themselves through an arduous physical journey that as an individual would be impossible. Some run to test their personal limits, some to overcome personal obstacles, and others leap in blindly looking for a way to shake up a complacent life. As we follow these four teams, we realize that winning isn’t everything in a documentary that takes a celebratory look at personal motivation and attempting the extraordinary.

Hood to Coast is playing in 350 theatres nation wide, for one day only (check listings here) What is posed to be the biggest running events nationwide. Stay tuned for additional content covering this event. For now, take a look at the trailer:


Running in Sydney (Adventure 1)

In another country and want to get to know the area? Just bring your running shoes. And that's exactly what I did when I was in Sydney, Australia in late November. It was a last minute trip that left next to zero time to plan on how to get around. So I threw my running shoes in my luggage and less than a week after finishing the ING New York Marathon, it would be great to get in a nice and easy (and scenic) run.

So I when I woke up the first morning, I put on my running gear, loaded a backpack with a map, some water and made my way to the lobby... only to find out that it was pouring rain. I was already dressed and set to go, but wasn't anticipating the rain drops so I decided to see if I could wait it out. I went to the hotel's business room and jumped on the Internet to kill some time. After about 30 minutes and the rain still falling, I decided that I wasn't going to let the rain stop me. Screw it! I was going to go run in the rain. I threw on a hat I bought the day before (the $3 tourist hat with a kangaroo on it) and started plotting away. I considered running while holding an umbrella, but thought that might look dumb (says the guy in the kangaroo hat). I got about a mile in and it started raining harder and I was already drenched. I decided to swoop into a 7-11 (yes, in Australia) and buy a poncho. Now I was thinking! So I threw that on and away I went. This was a much better way to run in the rain... it kept me completely dry, although my clothes were already wet. As you can tell, my running brain doesn't function outside the US.

I really wanted to see the ANZAC bridge, so I made my way in that general direction. I reached the bridge quicker than expected, so I decided to run across it. It was a shorter distance than I anticipated, so I kept going... seemed like that right thing to do. I saw a park on the other side and thought: "who doesn't like to run in a park?" After that, I headed down what looked like a nice neighborhood and ended up in cozy neighborhood/downtown area. I passed a bakery and immediately decided it was a good time to grab a bite to eat. I settled on a white-chocolate blueberry scone with an orange juice and rested for a few minutes while I ate my delicious breakfast and watched the locals go about their daily business.

After I was done I realized that I put my backpack down in what started as a dry spot and was now a puddle. PERFECT. So I put on my wet backpack on my wet clothes and covered it with my water proof poncho and headed back to the hotel. All in all, it was a "interesting" run. I got my 10 miles in, ran across an amazing bridge, had a great breakfast and WAS IN SYDNEY! Can't beat that I guess.

Here is a photo of the experience... so if you happened to be in Sydney and saw this crazy guy running in wet clothes and a wet backpack with a kangaroo hat covered by a poncho, it was probably me. Seems like a safe bet.


200th Post: NYC Marathon Recap

With so much excitement surrounding the ING NYC marathon, this may be one of the toughest recaps I have had to write due to the fact that there is SO MUCH to write about. I will try to cover as much as possible, while still keeping it a decent, readable length. Of course, things will be missed and left out, but none-the-less, if you ever get a chance to run the event and participate, DO IT!

The race starts off with a very early start time to catch either a ferry or a bus to the start line on Staten Island. My ferry time was 7:00, but due to some well advised information from past participants, I was informed that you can catch the ferry at almost any time. I decided to take the advice, but not risk being too late and caught the 7:30 ferry. That still left me almost 3 hours until my start time of 10:40. (Yes, the race starts late in comparison to most races).

Luckily, I was running with a friend, Larry, so the wait wasn't that bad and it also gave me chance to relax and get ready before the race. I took "throw away" clothes to keep me warm and it definitely came in handy. As I was sitting down chatting with Larry, I mentioned that we should have written our names on our shirts (another tip we were given for the race — people will cheer you by name all along the course). I said sarcastically "Anyone have duct tape and a pen?" And sure enough, the lady next to me did. So I wrote my name and taped it to my chest. It was fate I guess.

At the start line (which was very well organized and managed) we were sent off with the blast of a cannon and the playing of Frank Sinatra's New York, New York... rather fitting. So the first 2 miles are the steepest uphill across the Verrazno-Narrows Bridge (see photo). There were tons of people around us and it would stay consistently packed the entire race. It wasn't crowded to the point of being un-runnable, but if you wanted to maneuver forward, it would take some in-and-out motions.

We then headed into Brooklyn which was full of fan support and vibrant cheer. There is definite momentum going in and through Brooklyn and there is cheering the whole time, except for a very quiet section as you run through a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. But as you continue out of Brooklyn and into Queens, the energy is constant. Through the first 8 miles as we exited Brooklyn, we were at a comfortable pace, but flying through the course. I was checking my watch, but not keeping as close of an eye as I should have been.

As we hit the 13.1 mile mark, we were well on pace for our estimated finish time, coming through the half-way point at 2:10:38. I was hoping for somewhere around a 4:25-4:30 finish, so we were doing fine with a 5-min. cushion. I could tell that my legs were feeling fatigued (and it was earlier than I would have hoped), but the only thing to do was keep pushing forward. I suppose I should have taken a more serious note of the time and slowed down a bit, but with the crowd energy and the thought of finishing before 4:25 creeping in... I was the stubborn runner and just kept pushing on.

As we started to go across the Queens bridge (mile 15-16) and head into Manhattan, I could tell that I was slowing way down. As excited as I was for running across the QB (even if it was the bottom portion), this by far was the toughest part for me. What's funny, is that this leads into what should have been the most exciting part of the course — a straight 3 mile shot down First Ave. where the streets were as packed and as energetic as I have ever seen. It was like being in the center of a parade and a crowd 3-4 rows deep cheering you on the entire way. If this was the section to pick up some time and fly through to the finish, it was the perfect setting.

Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. Fatigue continued to creep in and with a slight eye on my watch, the time slowly ticked away. I kept clipping off miles and fed off the energy of the crowd... from people screaming our names, to a lady handing out cookies, we were going to finish this race. With one more borough to complete the five, we headed in and out of the Bronx. Entering Manhattan again we came into another high energy section, Harlem. After that we were running parallel to Central Park on the Upper East Side making a right into Central Park just before the Guggenheim Museum.

Once we were in the park, we were covered by lush trees and cheered on by people the entire way... I got the feeling that this incredible journey was almost over. Larry and I continued to keep our legs moving, but Larry could tell I was tired and he stuck with me the whole way. As I saw 4:30 come and go, I saw an opportunity to finish strong. I looked at Larry and said, let's run this last mile in under 10 min. So we put on our fast pants and started passing people. As we got around the 25.5 range, I noticed a camera crew in a golf cart focusing on a single runner. As we passed him, I turned my head to see who it was and sure enough, it was Edison Pena, the Chilean miner. As people chanted "Chile, Chile" Larry and I continued our strong run to finish just over 4:41.

It was quite an event from start to finish. I definitely think that it is a race that must be experienced. If it isn't on your radar, I highly suggest considering it or putting it on your "must race" list. I'm a really glad I decided to run it and got the chance to run with a good friend (MFC). Not to mention that I was able to come back from a heart-breaking ITB injury in July and recover enough to not only finish it, but to put up a finish time I'm happy. It's more than I could ask for.


NY Marathon (Before)

It's been awhile since my last post and it was 80% on purpose. This is my 199th post and I was saving my 200th post for the NY Marathon recap. Which will be up mid-November.

This was my very first time entering into the NY lottery and luck of the runner, I got in! Then I got hurt. Then I got better. So, it all worked out I guess.

I'm sort of on the fence on how I feel about this. I was super excited to get in and run one of the most exciting events out there. But I always wanted to run this race when I was ready to set a great time. Hence my not entering the last 2 years. I was in line to make this fast NY marathon a reality, but then injured my IT 4 miles from a 4:20 finish in Seattle. With limited time to rehab and build up my miles, it would have to be a recovery time with zero set backs... which it was. I was able to build up to 22 miles 2 weeks before the race which left me enough time for a taper. Had there been any hiccup in my recovery, a 20+ training run wouldn't have been possible.

NY is setting up to be a good/bad combo. I got in (good), I get hurt (bad). I recover enough to race (good), I won't be able to go fast and risk re-injury (bad).

So I have to change things up and make marathon day a good/good. The current plan is to run with a friend of mine and just enjoy it. I'll be running the NY MARATHON for crying out loud. Running next to the likes of Oprah, P. Diddy, Katie Holmes, Edward Norton... Ok, I don't know if any of those people are running it this year, but they have run it in the past and seeing them in running gear next to me as I run through Brooklyn sounds fun. So let me have my moment...

I'm planning on 10 min miles and finishing around 4:30. That's a comfortable pace where I shouldn't run a risk of bothering my IT. (pun totally intended).

I'd love to hear last minute tips from past participants or words of advice from you fellow runners, feel free to throw them in the comments below.


Steamtown Marathon — 10/10/10

With many races being held on 10.10.10, we needed to find a story to share, and we found a great one. Ladies and Gentlemen, our guest blogger for today is Teena Renfrow.

As a runner of over 30 years, I am relatively new to the running of half marathons and marathons. My second marathon on Oct 10, 2010 in Scranton, PA was such a joy to run, I felt compelled to share it with other runners. Steamtown is a small marathon limited to 2,500 runners. It sold out in mid-July. It is touted as one of the fastest marathon courses in the US due to its net drop of nearly 1000 feet over the length of the course. Some might think that is a good thing although I must admit I was concerned because downhills usually kill my knees. Nevertheless, I signed up for it along with my husband and his son.

Arriving in Scranton on Saturday to pick up race packets, the expo was small. No featured speakers. No elite runners. But the day was a beautiful autumn day in the low 60’s and the fall foliage was in abundance. However, notices warning of the starting temperature to be at 30 degrees were placed throughout the venue.

Race day arrives. After not one, but two, alarms that had been set declined to go off, I happened to check the time as I could hear people bustling around outside the motel room. Sure enough, it was after 5:00 am. Buses were running from downtown Scranton to Forrest City, where the start was, from 5:30 to 6:45 am. We hurried through our pre-race ritual and managed to get to the buses by 6:30. A 45 minute ride through the hilly countryside took us to Forrest City. Luckily one of the schools hosted the runners so that we were able to stay nice and toasty until it was time to start the race. Race time was at 8 am so this was much appreciated.

Everyone was encouraged to hit the starting line about ten minutes before eight. A prayer was given, the national anthem sung and then cover your ears because the cannon was shot to start the race. The race starts out with one of the steepest drops in the entire course. Then there were a few gently rolling hills before settling into the downhill decline for which it is known for the next 13 miles. I had been warned not to try and make up too much time on this as you would need leg strength at the end of the race when some uphills kicked in at the 23rd mile. So I paced myself conservatively and settled in to enjoy the view.

And what a view! The hills were alive with color, the sky was void of clouds and a crystal clear blue. We traveled through many small towns along the way and each community was so welcoming it was hard not to smile the entire way. Besides the regular aid stations set up by the race committee, it was as though each town tried to outdo the other on who could be the most hospitable. Cheerleaders, bands, tables of cookies, bananas, orange slices all were offered along the way. Some homes also set up their own welcoming committee and at times, a single car might be open with its radio blaring to encourage us to keep running.

In between some of the towns, the course wound its way into some very nice trails alongside a rushing river. The softer touch of the ground was extremely appreciated at this time for the toll taken to the knees of continuously going downhill. I wish I could have taken the time to get some beautiful pictures of this scenic area, but I was focused on getting a better time than my first marathon so kept chugging along.

Once we got into Scranton, the crowds thickened dramatically. About three miles from the finish line the crowds were so thick, you wouldn’t have been blamed if you had thought you were at the finish line. Houses competed to see who could blare music the loudest or who had the best Halloween decorations. This also is when the hills started to kick in. I live and train in Bethlehem, PA and we are not without our own hills here. Most people — at least those running my pace — started walking once they reached these hills but I suddenly felt right at home. I cranked up the pace and reveled in the spectators encouraging me to go faster. The last three miles were the most fun — I was in the home stretch and nothing was going to stop me now. One last push about a half mile before the finish line and then it was downhill to cross. As I got to the finishing mat, the announcers called my name — and then felt inclined to add that “Teena has a nice kick!” — which only made me smile bigger than before as I crossed the finish line at 4:29:56. Someone put a medal around my neck and I don’t know if he thought I was going to collapse or what, but he continued to hug me so that I just had to tell him that I just knocked 30 minutes off the time of my last marathon. He was thrilled and said I must have listened to my coach. I replied — I did! He said, it sounds like the coach knew what he was talking about. Again I replied — yes he did! I’m not sure who this man was but he seemed to be as happy for me and my time as I was.

So I’m not a fast runner but I do love to run. Sunday’s race was just about as perfect as you could hope for with the scenery and temperatures. The crowds and hospitality were just an extra bonus. I would encourage anyone to run Steamtown but register early and book a hotel room as soon as you register. There were no rooms to be found on race day.

And now that I have run this enjoyable small town race, I am looking extremely forward to my next marathon — my dream marathon — the ING NYC marathon! Talk about 180 degrees! Having completed Steamtown, my confidence is now high and I can’t wait for the next marathon in less than four weeks.

* * * *

Thanks for the amazing race recap Teena. And WOW! Shaving 30 mins. off your time is a testament to your training. Very impressive... you are more than set for NYC. Maybe I'll "run" into you. :)

If you'd like to share your comments below or on Teena's facebook page, feel free to do so, It's one heck of an accomplishment.


Mix It Up

Since this weekend is pretty special, it deserves a special (and final) post about our goal to raise some money for Dana's cause as she runs 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money/awareness for South African AIDS orphans.

Dana has committed to raising $26,000 on her 52 week journey and is currently around $11,000 with back-to-back marathons this weekend. The ING Hartford Marathon (10/9) and Steamtown Marathon (10/10). So, with a back-to-back weekend and 10.10.10 being this Sunday, I'd like to set up a special giveaway:

If you donate $10, I'll send you an audio file that will coach you through a 30-minute Nike treadmill workout. 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 donate $15, I'll also include a running playlist CD with great music to run to. A full 80 minutes of music to get those feet moving. It's my personal mix, so it has been road tested and approved.

BONUS MILE: If you take it a step further and donate $25, I'll include a $5 iTunes gift card with the two items above. Score!

DONATE HERE: this is a link to Dana's blog where you can donate.

So if you have been looking for a way to mix up your workout, here is your chance to do so and help out a very worthy cause. If you donate, please send me an email here and let me know how much you donated. Thats it. Easy as pie.


Recap: San Jose Rock n Roll Half

Coming off ITB injury and slowly building miles to NY, I had no wiggle room for any kind of set back. Having registered for the Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon a year in advance and running it the last 4 years, I was pretty set on doing the race.

Whether it was foretold around the fire by the elders or pure coincidence, the distance worked out perfectly in my training schedule. With NY getting closer every day, my weekend schedule is laid out by running a little further each weekend. After building up to 10 miles, 13, 15, 18, and 21 are chalked for the weekends. And yesterday was week 13 right in time for the RNRSJ. The plan was to take it at full marathon pace (10min. miles). My previous longer distance runs have been at 11 min. pace as I build strength.

I know it's been awhile since I've raced but sheesh, I brought my water belt, but left the water bottle at home. I brought my Garmin watch with me, but left it at my friends house while getting ready. Apparently treating this like a training run and not a race, was not going to be an issue.

The race weather was ideal for the faster packs. Although there was a brief sprinkle in the first mile, the sun stayed behind the clouds for most of the morning. It was a comfortable over-cast day with the sun not creeping out until 1:40 after the start time. If you were on the course past the 2+ hour mark, the sun could prove to be challenging. But typically the latter miles of the RNRSJ are typically sunny and warm.

Running this race the last 3 years, I knew what to expect: a relatively flat course, with lots of cheering support along the way. It's funny when you remember the bands from previous years. Throughout the race I was clocking high 9 min miles and fairly close to 10s, which was a comfortable pace. I stopped at mile 7 to stretch out the IT just as a precaution and to remind myself that this was a training run and I was only at a 13 mile race. I'm definitely not strong enough to risk any setbacks and time is a 100% factor in that equation. I ended up cruising in at 2:08:30, right on pace and pain free. I couldn't have asked for a better race and it gives me a little confidence boost for the future knowing I have at least half the NY distance at race pace. The next three weeks will be difficult as I build towards the FULL-monty, but with 13.1 in my back pocket it shows that I'm half way there... and that I know how to Rock N Roll.


You might be a runner if...

You might be a runner if...
you've ever seen someone running and try to guess how many miles they are running that day.

You might be a runner if... 
on a super-hot day, you wear a running shirt when you are not running because of it's moisture-wicking ability.

You might be a runner if... 
you've ever purchased two pairs of running shoes at once because they are on sale.

You might be a runner if... 
you pick up your pace a little bit and correct your form when you see an attractive runner coming your way.

You might be a runner if... 
you cheer for people running up a hill from your car.

You might be a runner if... 
when you hear a good song you think: "I'm adding that to my running playlist."

You might be a runner if... 
you are planning a vacation and check to see if there will be a race the same time you are there.

You might be a runner if... 
you have ever said the words: "It's okay, I'm carbo-loading" while eating something you shouldn't be.

You might be a runner if... 
you drink excessive amounts of water or Gatorade on a Friday preparing for a Sunday race.

You might be a runner if...
you smile a little when someone asks you: "How many miles is THIS marathon?"

Some of these may apply, or maybe none do. But I listed these because I have done EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE. Yep, I root for people from my car. I'm that guy. Feel free to share your favorites or some additional ones in the comments below.


Disney and the Coast to Coast Challenge

We have a guest blogger today... it's Liz Weed, who we previously interviewed here. She is coming back from injury and recently tackled the Disneyland Half Marathon, completeing the Disney Coast-to-Coast Challenge (run Disney World and Disneyland Half Marathons). Here is her race recap:

I began 2010 with the Disney World Half Marathon. It was my first attempt running after 6 months of physical therapy (a marathon related injury). January in Florida was supposed be good running weather, but at 29 degrees and sleeting rain, I disagree. While attending that event one of my running friends suggested we do the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. If we run Disneyland and Disney World in the same year, we will get a really cool medal. I myself was thinking: "a great reason to travel to California and hit the beach!" 

September arrived early in my mind. After a whirlwind summer and a move, I was ready for this break. Disneyland proved to be a much nicer venue for a race. The weather was perfect at 65 degrees, and the days leading up to it were beach filled. Two other women joined me, one of whom met me in Florida for the first race. She too had just moved and couldn't find her race shoes! I was the only uninjured runner in my trio, so the others just wanted to finish. I wanted to run a good race at marathon pace knowing that I have one in 4 weeks (Chicago). 

We all had some glitches. First I was placed in the wrong corral. As a matter of fact, I was placed in the very last one! But it is Disney and they agreed to move me up to C. I should have been in B, but I was thankful to have been moved at all. I forgot my running socks, but isn't that what running expos are for? One of my friends forgot her ear buds for the much needed iPod. We had great fun in Downtown Disney trying to convince her to buy the animal shaped ear buds (Monkey or elephant!). She went with basic black. My other friend eventually found her running shoes, but needed me to get her bib since she was late. I am so thankful for camera phones since I have had to do this twice now for friends. 

I will say that Disney World puts on a bigger show, complete with fireworks and a live camera to see the front runners begin. Disneyland does not do any of that and the announcer was awkward at best. But Disneyland made up for it with better weather, a more scenic course and great audience participation. My favorite aspect of the race was running the bases at Angel Stadium. That was just FUN! Your name is called out as you are running and you are filmed on their live cam. The stands were filled with a multitude of groups and people cheering. I enjoyed running through the theme parks and I did stop for a picture with the characters from Toy Story, but I was focused on time. I had a rough start when my iPod fell and I had to face a swarm of runners to retrieve it (that was scary), but I managed to break from the groups and finished within my goal time of 2 hours and 5 minutes. Since my friends were run-walking and pretty far behind me I decided to help bring them into the finish. So after a snack and some coffee, I ran back to my first friend and helped her with the last mile. Then I turned around and ran back to my other friend and helped her in. So I managed to get my extra miles in and helped my friends at the same time. Of course, when you run a Disney event it is a requirement to act like a kid. And we did it with style. After the race, we put on our pink tiara's, our Coast-to-Coast medals and our Disneyland medals and we went to the theme parks. As soon as we entered Disneyland we ran into Cinderella herself. She gladly posed with us "the running princesses."

A great race. A great venue. And a much needed getaway.

* * *
Thanks Liz. I had the opportunity to run the Disneyland half in 07 and I enjoyed it as well. I'm glad you had a great time at both events and also that you were able to help your fellow runners finish. Now it is our turn to help you out: Liz is fund raising for her upcoming race in Chicago, so let's see if we can help her out. Here is a link to make a donation to Liz: http://www.active.com/donate/RMHC2010/lizweed

Liz participated in our "A Cause to Run For" donation program and was awarded a $5 Starbucks gift card. She declined to accept it, saying it was "her pleasure to donate," so I decided to "pay it forward." Everyone dollar that you donate to Liz will count as a raffle entry to win her $5 gift card (and for fun, I'll throw in another $5.) So if you donate $5, that's 5 entries. If you donate $10, that's 10 entries, etc. All you have to do is donate to the link above, then comment below how much you donated and tell us your favorite Disney Character. Sounds like fun!


Starbucks Giftcards

I'm mailing out the first pair of Starbucks gift cards as a thank you to those that made a donation to 25:40 — Saving South Africa's AIDS orphans on behalf of Dana Casanave.

If you're not sure what I'm talking about here is the quick rundown:
I squared away some money to donate to Dana's cause... rather than donating it directly, I'm using it to see if I can raise more money through give-aways and thank you gifts to others for donating. If by the end, I have exhausted my give-aways, I will donate the remaining funds. (original story here)

Here is the first give-away:
The first 5 people that donate (at least) $10, will receive a $5 Starbucks card as a thank you. AND OF COURSE, everyone that donates will receive something from me. Starting with "A Runner's Playlist" — a personal collection of my favorite songs to run to.

So far we have had 2 donations, hence the two gift cards being mailed out above. Already, 10 of my dollars has turned into $20 for the cause. Let's see what else we can do.

Here is a link to donate and to Dana's page where you can read about her journey to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. All you have to do is e-mail me after you donate with the amount and your address so that I can send you your "thank you." Here is my email: pavementrunner@gmail.com

Again, if you are a San Francisco Giants or 49ers fan, let me know and I can score you some swag. 


Me vs. The Alarm

Each morning as the sun slowly rises and the grass begins to collect the morning dew, we enter the battlefield. Armed with our weapons of choice, separately we prepare for this encounter in our own ways. As I choose to rest and store up energy throughout the night, he decides to countdown the minutes until our predetermined skirmish. As I rest my eyes, he stares me down with an intense look of intimidation and readiness.

I enter the battlefield armed with the potential to become stronger and faster. Although he holds the key to kick-start the ignition and turn that potential into a reality, we must face-off each morning, trying to accomplish different tasks. As the time approaches, with his tenacity and determination, he strikes the first blow by blaring a noise so startling that it threatens to awaken me from my dark slumber. Often times it proves ineffective as I strike back with one of two strategic moves:

Defensive Jab: with a quick strike through the darkness, I manage to quiet his relentless noise. Although this is a strategic move that will grant me 10 more minutes of sleep, it is not a game changer. He will strike back when the time is right.

Knockout Uppercut: with a calculated and decisive maneuver, I'm able to end his bothersome noise for good. As he lays there silenced and defeated, I am able to return to sleep as he continues to count the minutes, but unable to make a sound.

If a defensive jab is delivered, he will counter attack 10 minutes later. At this point, he is delivering an ultimatum: "You may have silenced me, but I absorbed your attack and am here, standing strong." At this point, I can respond with a second defensive jab or face defeat and arise from my state of sleep. If I choose to deliver a follow-up defensive jab, this "dance" may be repeated as many times as necessary at 10-minute intervals until I face defeat or deliver a knockout uppercut.

Although a knockout uppercut may be thrown and I appear to have won the battle, as they say, I may still be in jeopardy of losing the war. Additional sleep may have been won, but an opportunity to become faster and stronger has been lost. A glimmer of hope lingers that tasks scheduled for that morning can be completed later in the day, but based on past history, it does not appear likely. Neither of us will walk out of the ring victorious with our head held high. He has failed to remove me from my sleep coma and I have failed to allow him to give me the opportunity to become a better runner.


A Cause to Run For

For the past few weeks I've been thinking about how I can help a fellow runner. What started this thought process was reading this runners blog about how she slept in a rental car the night before a marathon due to budget concerns (read here). It got me thinking how committed I am to this running thing... would I do the same? In a certain situation I guess I could see it happening... but for this runner, making that decision was the easy part. The following morning, not only did she have to run a marathon, but she had to run #30 of her 52 marathons in 52 week quest.

You may remember Dana Casanave, we
interviewed her awhile back and she also appeared on Pure Fit Radio. Recently during the San Francisco Marathon, I got the chance to "officially" meet and her. As she is running a marathon every weekend, she is also raising money and awareness for 25:40 — Saving South Africa's AIDS orphans. The easy thing for me would be to donate money and consider my "helpful-task" complete. But nothing is easy about what Dana is doing. So I've been thinking of a better way to use the money I planned to donate... so here is what I've come up with:

I've committed to donating a certain amount to 25:40 on behalf of Dana. (and no, I'm not going to tell you the amount, it would ruin the fun.) But rather than donate it directly, I plan to use that money to raise EVEN MORE money. I did this a couple years ago when my sister ran her first marathon for Team In Training. I took the money I committed to donate and held a Wine Tasting party and raised 4x as much. Same idea.

So here is the plan. Anyone that donates to 25:40 on behalf of Dana will receive something from me as a thank you. I'm not asking you to donate $30 or $50 (although it wouldn't be frowned upon). I'm hopeful that most people can donate $5. That's a cup of Starbucks and a pastry. If you can afford $7.50, that's great. More? Better. But I know times are tough and budgets are tight. After all, a tight budget is what started this process. But if you can donate $1, then my mission is on it's way to being complete because If I can get 878 people (the number of my facebook friends) to donate $1, then I have done more than my original donation could have done.

So with my donation money, I plan to purchase books, Starbucks gift cards, LIN socks, Runner's World subscriptions, running shirts, CDs, anything that will serve as a way to thank you for taking the time to donate. Over the next month or so, I'll be posting links on Facebook about special giveaways if you donate. Here is our first one:

Everyone that donates at least $1 this week, will receive a "runner's playlist." A CD comprised of great songs that will get your feet moving on your next run.

On top of that, the first 5 people that donate (at least) $10, will also receive a $5 Starbucks gift card.

In order to be counted as the first 5, you need to e-mail me your name, address and amount that way I can confirm with Dana. And it is limited to the first five... as you can see 25 of my dollars will turn into $50 for the cause. It's working already.

Again, everyone that donates will receive something from me. Whether it's $1 or $25, you are going to get something. Just e-mail me your name, address and donation amount that way I can confirm. I don't need any additional information than that — not your first born, shoe size or favorite color. If you are a San Francisco Giants or 49ers fan, please let me know since I already have some special give-aways planned specific to those teams.

Here is a link to donate — It is her blog page, there is a link on the upper right hand side that says "Click to Donate"

and here is my email: pavementrunner@gmail.com

Thanks again. And please note: if my mission falls short, the money I squared away for Dana will be donated. I committed to donating a certain amount and if it goes unspent on swag, it will be donated to her cause.


Wedding or Marathon?

55% of runnersworld.com readers say you can pick a marathon over a relative's wedding — if you signed up first. 

Wow. We love what we do, don't we? There has to be a joke somewhere using the term "Runaway Bride," I'm just not clever enough to come up with one. So, the question is: Would you choose a marathon over a relative's wedding? Well, a couple things go into the thought process here:

Are we talking about a cousin, uncle, sister or grandpa marrying a 30-year old blonde bombshell. Because some of those you just have to attend the wedding, no matter what.

Secondly, what marathon is it? ING New York, Nike Women's in San Francisco... because both of those are lottery drawn and difficult to get into. Is it a Rock n Roll Marathon that happens every year like clock work? Is it Boston?

Many things go into the thought process in making this decision. Unfortunately we don't know how in depth the 55% (or the 45%) put into their decision. Is there any situation that you would pick the race over the wedding? Is there any situation that you would choose wedding cake over cliff bars? My guess is that there are instances where both cases could be made.

Fortunately I've never had to make that decision. Perhaps if you attend the wedding and skip the race, the relative has to agree that if they ever get divorced, he/she has to run a marathon. Thoughts?


Destination Races

You can call them destination races, vacation runs, holiday with a marathon on the side... it doesn't matter, we all do them. How many times have you seen a race in a city that you've always wanted to visit? Next thing you know you are registered and looking for hotels and a flight to Margaritaville.

Traveling to another city to participate in an event can be quite an experience. It allows you to see the city in a way that most people don't get to experience. At least not the same way YOU are experiencing it. Last year, I ran Big Sur... long story (race recap) short, they close Highway 1 and you are running on the California Coast (or as the slogan says: running on the edge of the western world). Sure, everyone could just drive down Hwy. 1, but to truly appreciate the view, imagine it by foot while running up a 520 foot climb over 2 miles called Hurricane Point. The journey is a reward in itself, with the view as the cherry on top.

If you schedule the race early in the trip, you get a "quick" tour of 26.2 miles of the city, leaving you the remaining time to relax and enjoy your vacation. If you schedule it late in the trip it can serve as the final hoorah before you return home. Both options contain pros/cons, but just remember you are doing two things in one swing: visiting a place you always wanted to and second: running in a place you've always wanted to visit.

And you can't be embarrassed by wearing your finisher's medal the rest of the day in public. After all, they're strangers and you won't see them again... or will you?

Note: My first marathon was in 2006 in the lovely city of Florence, Italy. Training for 6-months was just a little bit easier imagining how beautiful it was going to be... give it a try! It's worth it. I just booked my airfare and hotel for New York in November... although I have been to NY before, it totally counts as a destination race since I live on the other side of the country. Cheers.


99 Days to Glory

It being Monday, it seemed like the perfect day to change things up a bit. Before I get to my announcement, I'd like to lay some ground work to serve as context for my decision.

I've been running for almost 4 years and have gone through some peaks and valleys in terms of my training. There have been injuries and back-to-back weekends running 20+ miles. This year has been filled with monthly races, but my training has taken a dip. Although that can be fun, I feel like I am missing out on several opportunities to get faster (through my own lack of training).

Part of this may have led to my current ITB injury... so how do I make a switch? Duh, by putting it out there on Facebook and allowing all of you to hold me accountable. 

So here it is: I will be spending the next 99 days (kicking my own ass) in training towards a 4-hour marathon (4:00-4:09). That's right. I have 99 days (starting yesterday, Aug.1) until the New York Marathon and I want to shave 20+ minutes off of my marathon PR in NY.

Here is the plan of attack:

Yes, sir! For the next 90 days, I will be working out every day with P90X. (for those unfamiliar, P90X is a 90-day extensive workout program coached via DVD). I have slacked the past year on my cross training and weight lifting, so this should get me re-focused on strength training and improve my core. Both will help the process of improving my running form and stride making me more efficient on the road.

Continue rehab on ITB
Over the weekend, I had my ITB worked on through some massage (similar to A.R.T. - active release techniques). I'm assuming I need one more session next weekend and should be all set to ease back into it. I'll also be receiving some acupuncture (more to follow on this).

Increased focus on quality running
This is largely predicated on my ITB recovery. It has been a month since I hurt it and I feel like I'm on the back end of the road to recovery. I'll run a mile this week, then ease back into increased weekly mileage culminating at the NY Marathon. Quality is the key word here. With 3-months to go and coming back from injury, every mile is going to have to count. No more "garbage miles."

Weight loss
Natural physics: a lighter object requires less force to move forward. I would not classify myself as over-weight, but could stand to shed a few pounds and "tighten" things up. I'll look to improve my diet and with the increased strength training and running, things should start to "disappear."

My current PR is 4:29. I'm looking to finish NY in the 4:00 to 4:09 bracket. It is doable, but will require a focused 3-month plan. The P90X program will be a large part of it, but working out doesn't equate to running faster. Over the next 99 days there will be many two-a-days and multiple showers to make sure I smell lemon fresh.

Since I began running 4-years ago, I have not been through a "rigorous" training program. Believe it or not, I've been getting faster by simply doing a couple mid-week runs and long runs on the weekend. So, I'm putting it on front street and leaning on all of you to help motivate me towards a life-long goal: a 4-hour marathon. In the (altered) words of Jay-Z: "I got 99 problems, but a marathon ain't one."


San Francisco Half Marathon

Here I am just before mile one....

Wait, I'm getting too far ahead of myself. As always, starting out WAY too fast.

OK. So I hurt my ITB a month ago in Seattle due to some shoe failure (and lack of training in May/June, but shhh that will be our little secret) so I had to drop down to the Half Marathon in order to prevent further damage. My plan of attack for the course was going to be: 1. Have fun and 2. Not injure myself any further (even if it meant stopping) and 3. Take pictures and video.

It seems like every race I do, I'm preoccupied with trying to PR and I never really get to enjoy the course. Even though I have run sections of this course a billion times in training runs, I might as well have fun running it with 20,000 of my fastest friends.

(Chewie) Manny, Me and Lori before the race.

I decided to stop before mile 1. That's right, I didn't even get 10 mins. into the race before I "pulled over" and started bull sh*ttin'. haha Told you I was going to have fun. Here is some video (below) of the VERY start of the race with downtown in the background. Shortly after this, as I came upon the first mile-marker I screamed out: "MILE 1 WHOOOOOOOOO!!!" Everyone around me seemed to smile and have a laugh. You have to keep the spirits up.

Video from the first mile

As I continued through the first few miles, the legs felt good. We ran past Pier 39 where many people stopped to take pictures. We then ran past Ghirardelli Square, where again, people stopped to take pictures. I always forget that there are so many sights to see along the first half of the course. People seemed to be having fun... I know I was.

And to your right (above), you'll see Alcatraz Island. The home to notorious criminals such as Al Capone. And to your left (below) ... your first San Francisco hill of the course.

One of the major attractions to running the San Francisco Marathon and (in particular) the First Half Marathon (which always sells out) is running out and back on the Golden Gate Bridge. It's always warm and sunny on the bridge at 6 in the morning. Ummmm... OK, it's not, but at least it wasn't raining like years past.

Here is video from the Sausalito side of the bridge. As you can see, this section of the course gets to be pretty congested with two-lanes open to runners.

Pretty much after the Golden Gate Bridge, you run down a giant hill where you get to pick up some time that you may have lost. At this point you are at mile 10. As long as you don't trash your quads flying down the hill, you can fly through the next mile or so. But if you are injured like me, you get to walk and take a picture.

At the end of my 13.1 mile journey I had taken some good photos, got passed by the 5-hour pacer and had finished my slowest half marathon to date. But I successfully didn't injure myself further and after some tenderness shortly after the race, I am moving around just fine. Mission accomplished.

I was able to make it to the finish line in time to see my best buddy Chewie Manny finish the Full Marathon. I was with Manny when he injured himself in Arizona and seeing him come all the way back through diligent training was a sight to see. As you can tell from the video, he was very well pleased to "Finish."


No, not that Rachel

Note: The name and city of the runner have been changed.

Last weekend at The San Francisco Marathon, I was cheering runners coming into the finish line. I've run this course before and know that the last few miles can be incredibly daunting.

As I was clapping, cheering and exchanging in general chit-chat with friends, I hear the announcers saying the names of people approaching the finish line: "And here comes Rachel Roma from Smallville" as I look over there is a female runner wearing a hat just passing where I was standing. I didn't get a great look, but I happen to know a friend with the same name from that same town. Coincidence? Being that the city of Smallville is less than an hour away, it made me think "maybe it's her." It sort of looked like her, but I didn't get a great look since she was passing me, but maybe it was?

But here is the kicker. The Rachel that I know is pregnant with her second child. The runner didn't look pregnant, but I'm unsure of how far along the Rachel I know is. So I busted out the iPhone4 (nice plug) and sent out a text to Rachel asking if she was running in SF because I just heard her name. After a few minutes I get a text replying that no, that is her sister-in-law by the same name.

But that's not the point, the fact that I thought someone who 1. historically doesn't run, 2. is preggers and 3. was capable of running 26.2 in hilly San Francisco is amazing. Those are three huge obstacles to overcome... but I didn't think twice that it might be her simply based on the name and hometown of a runner.

That is a nod to the amazing "everyday" runners going out there and accomplishing major feats. The stories that some of you share about your experiences on the road caused me to believe that a non-running, pregnant woman was running 26.2 miles up and down hilly San Francisco.

That means I am either losing my mind or we as runners are accomplishing amazing feats everyday turning the impossible into very doable.

Feel free to share an amazing experience you've had on the road or a friend's mind-bending accomplishment here on the blog in the comments below. We continue to inspire and motivate each other... I guess that's why runners are "the cool kids." Cheers.


The Decision (Couldn't resist)

Some might say it was an easy decision. Some might say it was a difficult one. Heck, some may even say I'm making the wrong decision, but none-the-less it is one I am comfortable with.

This must be mentioned as either a qualifier or at least to give some context: runners are stubborn. Sometimes to the point of self-destruction (which is a whole different post altogether).

I have decided to drop down from the San Francisco Marathon next weekend to the Half Marathon. Sorry that it wasn't some of the exciting choices mentioned on facebook from Oreos, to pumps, to giving up Starbucks. But it was one that took me a few days to come to grips with.

I injured my ITB last month at the Seattle RNR and was unable to properly rehab it in time to be 100% confident in it for San Francisco's 26.2 miles. That being said, er written. I'm am not 100% confident in 13.1 miles, but am well aware of what my limitations are and confident I can take it slow enough to not make the injury worse.

I will approach this run as... well, as one not to make my injury any worse. I can't bring myself to not participate. I have never run this race well. In fact, this race is a pain in the side of my ass (literally). So, I will not let it win. I will not let this race be the first time I drop out completely (read self-destruction note above).

I will be continue to rehab back to 100% health in time for New York in November. And you can believe that I will attack that NY course like none other. But first, it will be the SF Half Marathon for me with alot of walking.

Note: I am really comfortable with this decision. It will not make my injury any worse, I won't let it. I dealt with this injury over a year ago and am aware of my limitations.


Run AND Walk (yes, I said walk)

In this month's issue of Runner's World (pg. 34 Starting Line) there was a small paragraph about "eventually be(ing) able to run without walking" and thought I would share some thoughts on the subject.

I've been running for almost 4 years and have always used the run/walk method. It's how I learned to finish a marathon back in 2006 with the San Francisco Aids Marathon Training Program, now Greater Than One. They taught us the Jeff Galloway (who the article coincidentally was by) Run-Walk training method.

Some may think you have to "run" the entire time to be a runner. Eh, to each their own. I'm not an elite and never will be, but I consider myself a runner. I have enough marathons under my belt and a few ultra's as the whip cream... (makes no sense, but it's too late to go back and change it).

My first marathon, I finished in 5:21 using a 4-1 run/walk ratio. I now train under a 9-1 run/walk ratio and finish around 4:30. Come race day, I run from mile marker to mile marker, then take a 30 sec. to 1-minute walk. The style works for me and many others. It took some time for me to reach that ratio after starting with a 3-1. It's a good pace for me and it may change as I get faster (or slower). It's nice to have a plan to work with that is flexible.

Often times I'll leap frog people that are running the entire time. We are both running 9-10 min. miles, just using different techniques. We both finish with smiles and we are both runners.

What's your running style and how does it work for you?


An Easy 10 with Rebecca McKee

I'm pleased to bring back another edition of "An Easy 10 with..." I was hoping our latest interviewee would participate, simply based on her location. Add in some great stories, a lynx and a passion for running and coaching and you get a wonderful interview. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce one of Alaska's greats: Rebecca McKee.

Name: Rebecca McKee
Anchorage, Alaska
Race History: I started running 11 years ago when I wanted to run a local mountain race called Mt. Marathon (it’s the 3rd oldest race in the nation, and it’s not a marathon at all, it’s a 3 mile round trip, 3,022 ft mountain race!)
Half Marathon: I have run many ½ marathons, but most of them are in triathlons. My best time was at the Las Vegas Half around a 1:40ish
Triathlon: I have done so many I don’t think I could count! I do know that I have completed 9 70.3’s, and I have raced in many Xterra’s including the National and World Championships.

I started running... with a PASSION for running in 1999! I was at a race in Seward, Alaska called Mt. Marathon and hours after the event was over, hours after the finish line had been removed and people were just milling around a woman came down the street running. She stopped and asked me “do you know where the finish line was?” I pointed and she thanked me and continued to run. I was overcome with emotion and started walking along with her cheering her on, many other people stopped and cheered her along the way as well. When she crossed the “finish line” people had come out from businesses all over the street to cheer her on. It truly touched me and I thought to myself... I want to be a runner!

When I'm not running, I... might be swimming or biking... but when not doing those things, I’m working. I own a science based coaching center called Peak Center Alaska, LLC. I coach many types of athletes and I love owning Peak, it is a very fulfilling job!

One time when I was on a long run... a lynx walked out of the bushes right onto the road I was running on. When I first saw it I thought it was a small dog. As I started to run up on it I realized it was a lynx and was just in awe of how beautiful it was. I stood there for a very long time wondering what it might do. It actually sat and stared at me. After almost 15 minutes a car came around the corner and scared it off back into the bushes. All I could think the rest of the run was… If I wasn’t out running, if I wasn’t a runner… I would have never experienced that!

I choose to run without... worry. When I run, I let my mind and my soul enjoy the rhythm of my feet, the sound of my breathing, the feeling that nothing else in the world but running offers... total freedom!

The question I am asked most about running is... How do you train in Alaska over the winter!

After an event or tough run, I... love to have a yummy piece of white cake!

Running is... an amazing adventure powered by only your will to continue!

When I'm on the road... I love to see other people out enjoying the sport, it’s very motivating to me.

I wish other runners would... not be so into their iPod/music that they can’t acknowledge others.

If I could run 3-miles with someone famous, it would be... ahhh... such an easy one for me to answer, and perhaps the timing is perfect as well, but I would love to run 3 miles with Lance Armstrong!

* * * *

Thank you Rebecca. I love hearing about your stories via facebook and hopefully one day we get an opportunity to run together (in Alaska?) in the future. Or should I say "start together" since you would speed away and leave me in the snow. Keep running strong my friend.

Feel free to leave a comment for Rebecca or share a similar experience.

If you'd like to be a part of "An Easy 10 with..." please email me at pavementrunner@gmail.com.


Seattle RnR Marathon: A Pleasant Disappoinment

Note: There will be several posts about my entire Seattle experience, including meeting Scott Jurek, kayaking with whales, Olympic National Park and the FOOD... but this post will be marathon specific. I'll also talk about the course early next week.

I didn't really have very many expectations going into the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon other than to run with a really great friend and to finish. My training took a bit of a dip a couple months before, most likely due to burn-out and I was fine with using this as a training run for the San Francisco Marathon, which was three-weeks away. Being competitive with myself, I would try to keep a 10 min. pace and see if I could PR by a couple minutes but I wasn't overly anticipating it happening.

I was going to run the course with my coach and dear friend, Lori. She was hoping to get me to PR around 4:20 which I had registered as my "expected finishing" time. So at the start, we set out with a 9-10 min. pace, which I was comfortable with. We traded general conversation and Lori was excited about the opportunity to "get me" to 4:20. Her energy got me going and we breezed through the first 5 or so miles.

Just as I was letting her know that I didn't get the opportunity to meet up with some facebook friends at the expo or before the race, a streak of red, white and blue flew by us. I recognized her as Larissa (facebook and twitter friend), from her photos and her Moeben sponsored running outfit was an immediate give-away. She was running the half as we traded general chit-chat and she showed off her amazing 26.2/wing tattoo before she continued on. It was great to see her running strong after a recent injury had sidelined her.

As the miles continued on toward the 13.1 marker, the course was really nice. Some hills, but nothing terribly over-whelming. I was running in an "older" pair of shoes that I recently used on my last two ultra marathons. My original running pair of shoes that I had planned to run in, fell apart, so these were all I had. I debated buying a new pair, but with less than 5 days until race day, I didn't want to risk running in a brand new pair. (this decision may have been good or bad... what do they say about hindsight?) Around the half-way point, I noticed that my right knee wasn't feeling "normal." Something was off and I knew that my older shoes, didn't have the support I was hoping they still had.

While we were running across the floating Lake Washington Bridge on an out-and-back stretch, I saw Dana, a fellow blogger and facebook friend. She is currently running 52 marathons in 52 weeks to help raise money/awareness for South African orphans with AIDS. We recognized each other and traded smiles and waves. She told me I was "looking good" which sticks in my memory because at that time, I was starting to really get concerned with my "uncomfortable" knee. But it put some pep in my step and we kept moving.

For the next 5 or so miles, I could tell that I was slightly slowing down, but still keeping pace for a 4:20 finish. As we reached the 30km (18.6 mi) we were at 3:07:29. Lori was going to do it. She was going to pull me to an amazing PR. I tried to keep my head in the game, knowing a lot can happen the last 7.5 miles. But if I could keep our 10 min pace, we would come in around 4:20.

As we reached the mile 20 marker we were around 3:20-21. It really started to creep in my mind that if we stayed on pace, 4:20 was an extreme possibility. Also, if we slowed down to 11 min. miles, a PR was still up for grabs. My PR is currently 4:29, if I could shave off a few minutes feeling under-trained, it would be an amazing accomplishment. My knee was still bothering me and I could feel my legs getting tight (under-trained much?). I stayed steady with my salt intake and just continued moving the legs. To this point we were talking a 30 sec to 1 min walk break at each mile marker, consistent with our training. As I took our normal walk break at mile 21, it would be the last time I was able to move efficiently.

After we took that walk break, my IT on my right knee jumped out and said "no more!" My walk turned into a limp of excruciating pain. I knew that my hopes and dreams of a PR were done. I had run an amazing 21 miles on beat up shoes and under-trained. It took us 3.5 hours to run 21 miles, but it would take us an hour and 15 plus min. to make it through the final 5 miles. As I started to try to run after that walk break, it must have looked like Frankenstein trying to run. I had a horrible limp, but as it started to warm up I was able to get into a decent stride. Every time, I took a break to walk, it was an ordeal to get back into a slow jog. It felt better to keep it moving than it did to walk, so I would try to slow way down, but keep a nice forward motion. At one point, as I tried to walk and stretch it out, I screamed out: "it hurts so bad!" (or something along those lines) and the people around me had a chuckle. Not the kind of laugh as in they were "laughing at my pain," but the general acknowledgment of understanding that marathons are not easy.

As Lori, stayed with me and helped get me through the last 5 miles, it reassured me that she is a gift to everyone that knows her. An amazing person that gives endlessly. She knew I was toast, but kept my spirits high and I was glad to not be out there alone. As we made it through the last couple miles, I think delirium started to sink in. I started singing REM's "Losing my Religion" out of nowhere and it must have been tough for those around me considering I only know a couple lines. We ran most of the last mile eager to be finished, grabbed hands as we crossed the finish line and I like to think that we were both happy to be done.

Being so close to a 4:20 finish and coming no where near it is obviously disappointing. But as the title says, it was a "pleasant" disappointment. I can't believe I had a shot at it to begin with. I was thrilled to run a strong 21 miles. It gives me amazing confidence for the SF marathon in three weeks (if i can recover from this ITB). My final analysis is the lack of support in my shoes was the cause for the IT issues. When I got back to the hotel, the bottom of my right foot was significantly more "rough" and callused than my left which leads me to believe, I had no support on that shoe. My last two runs in those shoes were ultra marathon in Feb. and April. The reason I was able to run those two without injury is because I was on softer trails. The majority of this course was on rock-solid freeways. They never stood a chance. What did I say about hind-sight? But who knows, new shoes may have blistered the hell out of my feet... or I may have smashed the US marathon course record.

Either way, I was happy and pleasantly disappointed.