Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you!

Me before I became a runner (Artists rendition)
I came across Sarah Stanley's post about the Obama administrations efforts to make children healthy and after seeing reactions to the post on my Facebook, I was inspired to write. You see, I don't see anything wrong with the government 'intruding' in our lives to make our lives better. This administration has good intentions, and that's good enough for me. I am living proof that the government's focus on fitness really works. Let me share my tale!
C.R.A.P. and Totally B.S. org chart.
Three years ago I was an out of shape dad. My two year old daughter ran rings around me in the backyard, leaving me winded, wheezing and exhausted. Mowing my lawn was was torturous and my exercise consisted of me walking to and from computers, one at home, one at work. Then - the government intervened! I saw a TV commercial from the Department Of  America The Beautiful showcasing their Totally Beat Slovenliness program. This new federal agency dedicated to beautifying America combined with the Totally BS program were two fronts on the war to look awesome. Other programs included Worship The Food (a pro food group, which sent counselors to prop up participants self esteem no matter what their level of fitness) to the Community Restoring Appearances Plus initiative, which gave plastic surgeons much needed jobs in this tough economy and offered participants a quick and easy plastic surgery weight loss option.  Neither of those spoke to me, so I called the 800 # and waited to hear back from the government.

Mike - my case worker. Here he rests after a grueling morning of work.
Two months after that call my case worker pulled up in his new state issued Prius to go over options with me, I glanced at his laptop and something caught my eye. "Couch to 5k? What's that?" I questioned. "Err that's one of our new programs but I must warn you, it's not as effective or speedy as C.R.A.P. or Totally B.S. " he responded. Undaunted, I urged him to sign me up and he was right, it wasn't fast at all! It took weeks for me to get to the point where I could run three miles without stopping, it was also expensive, painful, and difficult. Thankfully, DATB helped me every step of the way! They supplied me with new shoes courtesy of their voucher program. They had another case worker show up to coach me, yet another gave me encouragement in the morning when it was cold and didn't want to run, and still another supplied with me all the necessary funding for things like race registration, technical shirts, bodyglide, etc. When I finally ran that first 5k,  it was not just a testament to ME, but a testament to the can do spirit of the government! All 13 union case workers, supervisors, managers, administrators and facilitators braved the chill morning air (and collected double overtime) that fateful Sunday morning to cheer me on. I'll never forget the elation and happiness when I crossed that finish line. I received brochures, mousepads, pens, and even a foam finger from each of my helpful public servants.  I, err I mean WE did it! As I saw more finishers cross the finish line to the cheers of their case workers in the stands, my eyes teared with emotion. Today, as I see our country embarking on another crusade to help people pick apples over candy bars, I tear up again. Somewhere, some case worker will help a citizen make the right choice, somewhere, someone will fill out a form 1013-B Sub Section A (assistance in avoiding soda) and maybe someday those people will run a race, not by themselves, but with the help of their extended family. God bless you for reading and God bless America!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving! This is what a Vegan spread looks like!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and so today I'm writing about a few ideas related to this great day:
  • Helping the poor/hungry
  • Keeping things in perspective 
  • Things I am thankful for (inspired by my friend Michaela who posted the question on Twitter)

It's been a year since the Run To Feed The Hungry, and this year sadly will be the first in 3 that I won't make it. The run feeds homeless and hungry people in the greater Sacramento area, and the running community in Sacramento always makes this a very successful day even in rough economic times. In a similar vein since about spring I've done a bit of outreach myself. What my wife did is put together a bunch of energy bars, snacks, etc from various races into a box which I carry around in my truck. When I see people stopped at lights asking for food or perhaps run into one during my travels, I offer them food instead of money. I'm sure you have a cache of stuff as well! Powerbars that are sitting there unused, random gels that maybe you don't like and won't eat, etc. All judgments about chemical dependencies etc, it's nice to share food. We all need it.

Even though I can't run, I am slowly feeling my strength return to my quads, maybe it's psychosomatic who knows. I am trying to keep things in perspective and be thankful not just because of this holiday, but because it helps me deal with life to see the glass as half full. We runners view things differently, how many times have we heard someone say "oh I HATE running" or "you couldn't pay me to do that!" well, it's all about keeping things in perspective. We view running and staying healthy one way, as a way of living life and celebrating life. Other people view it as painful, and don't see the reward. They see the hurt, but not the smiles, they smell the sweat, but don't feel the endorphins, they see the blood but not the heart. I mourn for those that can't see things the way we see them, but what can you do? I try and lead by example, and that's all I can do really.

So, what am I thankful for? I'm grateful for being healthy, for remembering how it feels to put down some miles, for looking forward to running in 2011. I'm thankful for my family who is there for me, for being employed in a tough economy, for having a job I actually enjoy, for having friends that are there for me and the means of meeting new people that share common interests. (That's you!) I'm thankful for my faith, for my children, and for my wife. Get stoked people, there's a lot of reasons to do so. Thank you for reading!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Road Back - Teese Mini-Review

Save yourself a copay, and print this image!

I went to my new physical therapist this week and received "official" instructions on what to do to get back in the game. Bottom line, lots of reps, low weight, and even more reps ! I also found out how bad my leg had atrophied as the PT measured the quad area with a tape measure about 4 inches above my knee. My left leg is currently 18 1/2", the right leg? 17 3/4" ! That's a lot of muscle loss, and if I am to run again without getting injured again and starting this whole horrible process over, I must get to at least 80% of the size and strength.This means a lot of reps, and a lot of eating to build up that muscle mass.  This dovetails nicely into my next topic, my mini-review of Teese vegan cheese! 
So for a while now, Daiya has been my "fake cheese" of choice, but a few weeks ago I had Teese for the first time and have been excited to try it on a pizza pie. We visited "Never Felt Better" in Sacramento the other day and this week we finally tried it. It is delicious! it's a mild flavor and light years away from vegan cheese technology of the mid 90s (remember those tofutti cheeses? yechhh)The only downside is that it's not quite as "melty" as Daiya, meaning it doesn't stay in a melted state for long. So once that pie comes out of the oven, gobble it down with a quickness!
100 % vegan, 200% delicious!
We (well, the Mrs.) made the pie with homemade sauce and crust. If we had a pizza oven the results might be different in regards to the meltability of the cheese. If you are in the greater Sacramento area, say hello to Jen and purchase some at Never Felt Better, then go downstairs to eat at Sugar Plum Vegan, and then head across the street to buy music at Phonoselect. There. Do I get a cupcake yet? :P

One final note , Earlier this week I got a great RT from the folks at Run Addict,  I had great fun responding, hope you enjoy a bit as well!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finally, Good News

On the road again...
After my horrendous experience at "Keyser" a few weeks ago, I dreaded going back to see another specialist, but left the hospital this week with a huge grin on my face! The verdict? My knee is fine. 100% fine. What's the pain all about? My weak, atrophied right leg is having a tough time because during this injury I babied it too much, thus causing my kneecap to slightly move to the right. If you, dear reader, would grab one leg and then the other you would see the difference in muscle loss. I was honestly shocked but in the end, relieved.  To correct this I just need to strengthen my quads and not do something silly like too much distance running, too soon.  I am still smiling, I also still feel a bit of pain but now know the steps to get out of this quicksand. Apparently the other doctor's claims that I had this and that damaged were total hogwash, I supressed the desire to yell down the hall "SEE?! I TOLD YOU SO!" and just smiled quietly when Dr. G looked at the x-rays and said "I see no damage, everything looks fine, you do need to strengthen your quads though". So here's the timeline of what I did wrong

  • Banged my knee and then went on a huge long run instead of RICE
  • Didn't do RICE properly the first time around.
    Didn't adhere to taking Ibuprofen regurlarly
  • Didn't cross train when healed
  • Ran a 1/2 marathon when healed (whoops!)
    Hiked when I wasn't healed.
  • Put off seeing the doctor
  • Didn't ask for a second opinion
  • Understated my injuries
  • (and finally) Let someone else get me down when I knew in my heart he was wrong.
So what does this mean? It means my road back to joining the running community has a direction, a course, and milemarkers. According to the Dr. if I can get my right leg up to about 80% of the strength of the left, then I should be good to go. Time for me to do a short walk. :) Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knee Update: Two Paths, Two Men, Two Days

After weeks and months of babying my knee, not walking, sticking to the fake bike I finally went back to my doctor. It hurt to walk, it was painful to do the fake bike and the only relief I really had was swimming and I was miserable and irritated. What followed were two visits over two days, with two different men and two vastly different experiences.

My first was with a doctor at a facility we'll call "Keyser Medical" my doctor is a pretty decent guy, and so I figured the knee 'expert' would be also as nice. I was wrong. I walked in, he had me lie down, did a cursory exam of my legs, asked me where the pain was. (This is so infuriating, because the pain was inside the knee, and he kept asking me to point to it - uh unless you have a needle and xray vision I'm not going to be able to do this buddy!) He then sat me up, took a quick glance at old x-rays from months ago, and read over the notes that my other doctor and PT had put in. I told him how running had helped me lose weight, was great exercise, how I hadn't run before this and had pretty fresh knees since I wasn't a guy that ran in high school or anything. He nodded and kept reading the story, then proceeded to tell me "the sooner you accept the fact that you can't run again, the better off you will be" I was so stunned I didn't say anything at first. I'm a polite guy, but when someone offends me I usually have some sort of retort available. I think I stammered out an "excuse me, I've been running for only two years, how the heck are you telling me my running stint is over?!"
He then went on about cartilage damage, how damaging running is how maybe if I babied my knees I'd be able to run short distances, but not the longer distances of a half or full marathon. I was shocked, then incredulous and finally, furious.

This Hatebreed song = my feelings after seeing the Dr. "Burn their lies! Their words of ignorance!"

I asked him for an MRI and he dismissed my request outright, going so far as to say "You can go to a store to buy bread, and pick and choose, but not here. The MRI is for us, and I don't need it." He seemed skeptical when I told him I had stayed off my knees, and when I asked him if he was a runner he told me "I used to be, I was so fast, oh I could have left you in the dust! I used to wear weights because my friends couldn't catch up" I can't make this stuff up! I was flipping out - one minute I wanted to laugh in his face, the other I wanted to throw him into a fiery put, the other I was ready to weep. Thankfully the urge to seek out a molten fissure in the earth passed, and sanity returned. I thanked him for his time and respectfully asked for a 2nd opinion/referral.

The Mrs. convinced me to go see the folks at Kinections. They came highly recommended from multiple runners I respect and even some I barely know! I had nothing to lose and was despondent. Kinections aren't doctors, they are sports therapists and their facility in downtown Sacramento is spartan but welcoming. Exercise machines fill the middle of the room, and the western wall has stations separated by curtains. If you aren't into hearing your neighbor's conversations, this might be something to consider. If you are like me and don't care, no big. Lino lay me down and had me move my legs around, asked me what I was doing, when, how long etc. He asked me what sort of running I did, trail or road, and if I did anything to exacerbate my knee. I told him the banging into the wall during rock climbing story and he moved to the foot of the table. He had me turn my toes inward and noted that I didn't have as much range of motion on the right then nodded. (This is where things get weird/awesome)

He told me to relax, fished around under my knee, behind my knee, poked his fingers up into that area. I felt  pain for a hot second andI tried not to whimper too much since people were right next to me on both sides.
He then shoved an ice pack underneath the back of my knee and told me to wait a few minutes. I listened to the conversations around me. The couple to the right of me were training with Fleet Feet for CIM and the husband was amped on his long run that weekend. The wife was wary but excited to see progress.  When he returned he told me "get up and walk!" and I did..and the pain, while not 100% gone, was DRASTICALLY improved! It was like going from an 8 to a 2 in minutes. Was this totally psychosomatic? Was I feeling better because he told me I would? "What did you do?" I asked "I moved some cartilage around, should be ok now" I was incredulous for the 2nd time in as many days, "Well now what?" "ice behind your knee, it won't pass through the bone very well, hmm ibuprofen if you want, but really you should be ok to run - just heal up 100% now that everythings where it should be" I thanked him, paid him and walked around a block just to see if he was right, and he was.

So where does this leave me now? If I spend time on the foam roller, stretch and swim, I feel awesome. I still have a referral to see that other doctor and a chance to get more X-rays. Part of what I hate of all of this is the unknown and having to deal with people who allegedly know more about this than we do. I know there are good doctors - and my rage isn't with the medical profession in general, just in particular. It's just disheartening to hear the same story repeated over and over by fellow runners. I can trot around the backyard with the kids at least, so that is a huge plus! I can also walk without pain - this is giant. I highly recommend Lino and the staff at Kinections. Hope your runs are awesome this weekend, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Movie Mini-Review - Saint Ralph

Saint Ralph is a sweet movie about reaching for a miracle and running, but mostly about going for it. This movie shows us Ralph's hi-jinks navigating life at a Catholic school under the stern rule of  Father Fitzpatrick. Ralph's mother succumbs to an unknown malady and lapses into a coma and Ralph then tries to make a miracle happen by praying, penitence and training  to run and win the Boston Marathon. Like most Hollywood treatment of running, this movie is also a bit unrealistic and doesn't actually show training as runners today would recognize. No ramp up or taper or tempo or long runs, but it is still a fun movie to watch for runners. If you have Netflix you can watch it online here.
I have heard these types of movies referred to as "dramadies" and it's an accurate description for this movie.
Even though there are life and death scenarios here, it's actually a lot less emotional than watching Spirit Of The Marathon. I gave it 4 stars simply because 5 is a lot and I'm stingy with my 5s.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Loving Hut Review

Loving Hut - The Balloon is biodegradable. Plastic does biodegrade right
Loving Hut is a chain-ish line of vegan Vietnamese restaurants that offer yummy vegan eats and exist primarily to fund the cult religion of Supreme Master Ching Hai.  Recently we checked out the newest Northern California location at the soft launch of their Elk Grove location. I know that this is just tangentially running related but since I am a plant eater and all, I figured I'd share some of the places that I eat - you tell me if you;d rather hear me whine about my injuries ! The menus are not the same in every location, so while you might get a sandwich in San Francisco, it might not be available here. Not sure why but that's ok. I guess it does give us variety. We ordered some fried rolls and cold rolls. Both were a decent price and tasted awesome.
Cold Rolls
Fried Rolls
 After the rolls we ordered some Orange "Chicken" and some Broccoli "Beef". The beef is a pretty standard vegetarian dish.  You can get this same dish at Hings in West Sacramento or even Au Lac on Stockton Blvd for a lot less than what they have here. If however you are in South Sac/ Elk Grove I suppose you might spend as much driving to Oak Park! The orange chicken was great but I was left wanting more chicken. The portions are decent, not as skimpy as Andy Nguyens, not as generous as Hings or Ding How in Davis.
Orange Chicken
Oh! I almost forgot, we got some vegan orange cake that was delicious but oh so rich. The frosting was like biting into a tub of sugary earth balance. I'm not that into sweets so maybe I should have someone else review the goodies. In conclusion I'd give this place a 4 out of 5 simply for the price and the size of their portions. I thought that as they were just opening, they would go all out with the portions so I was a tiny bit disappointed.
If you are a nor cal reader and know of a good place to eat that's vegan or vegetarian, let me know! I am always excited to try new places to eat. Hope your long runs are great and fueled by good food!

Broccoli Beef

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sacramento Urban Cow 1/2 Marathon 2010

For Mrs. G and I, the 2010 Urban Cow Half-Marathon (aka the Cowtown Half-Marathon) was our first foray into volunteering at a race rather than running it. In short, we had a lot of fun and learned a ton! Arriving around 7:00 AM, we met these two ladies crossing Freeport Blvd. What are the chances?  I actually DO own other technical shirts, but this shirt is always such a conversation starter and I'm a social guy so I had to say hello! On the left is Marisa and on the right is Alicia - first time veg runners and now CowTow Urban Cow finishers! I had to let Matt (NoMeatAthlete) know so tweeted immediately. I'm a dork, I admit it.
"Hey! Those shirts look familiar!"
"is that Kevin Johnson?" "quiet! they're singing the national anthem!"
We got to the race and said hello to Kellie from CRRM, got our t-shirts and got to work. We helped with the post race food corral and if you remember this race last year, it was a mess. In 2009 after I finished my run, I got my cowbell and didn't even bother with food because there was such a backlog of people there. Last year I also met Barefoot Ted and purchased Born To Run from him. This year, CRRM moved the corral and expanded the area to allow runners a chance to walk a bit and collect fruit, bread, juice, cola, water etc. I hope the runners enjoyed the change, it seemed to work out well from my vantage point. We worked with some of the nicest, most enthusiastic kids ever. It was so refreshing to have kids refer to me as 'sir' 'thank you' etc. We weren't 'supervisors' or anything, but the kids just deferred to Amy and I. I didn't argue the point! I wonder if it's running culture or these particular kids? Whatever the case, it was nice to deal with happy, polite people.
Mark giving the most agreeable kids in America a last minute pep talk.
 We saw the start of both the 1/2 and the 5k and clapped for everyone then set out to prep food and drinks. Once the first finisher came through, the morning flew by. We spent the majority of our time handing out food and Amy tried to coordinate with other parts of the food area and would occasionally send me to the dumpster to empty the bins. I'm happy to report that most runners in fact, like 99.99999 percent were awesome! There was a tiny demographic that got carried away with small crimes, like taking a whole carton of strawberries instead of just a couple! We ended up handing them out to stop that issue, otherwise the mid-pack folks would've been left with nothing. We also saw some runners take whole milk cartons and then chuck them. Why take them if you aren't going to use? Waste not, want not. I mean I don't want milk anyways but I digress. One of our fellow volunteers had a bullhorn blaring "once you leave you may not enter, Chipotle tacos are free for runners" over and over again. Some people still went in. Others asked me for food from behind. I wasn't going to say no!
Amy and two other volunteers, and lots of strawberries!
We noticed a lot of runners were running out of hands when we'd hand them their fruit, so once we freed up some baskets we'd give them to the runners and send them to the Grocery Outlet table (which had plastic bags!) this generated a lot of smiles but the Grocery Outlet people weren't too excited and eventually moved their bag giveaway to OUTSIDE the corral (what?). This made no sense to me but the GO people were there own entity so there's not much else we can do about them. Sometime during the 1/2 finishers coming in, I met another runner with a No Meat Athlete shirt! Turns out we have a mutual friend in Holly who does a blog as well!. We chatted for a bit, I gave him some strawberries, he gave me some injury advice and we took a photo or two together!
add Jeff to the growing ranks of Nor Cal veg runners!
Towards the end things got really hectic in the corral, and I was shocked to discover how little food was left!
Mental note: run faster, you will get more post race food! As I was lugging away a juicy, liquid soaked garbage bag, I heard "Jose!" and ran into Daphne, a friend from DailyMile. Daphne her husband and a friend stopped for a photo and looked absolutely awesome for completing 13.1 miles of fun. Congrats again Daphne!

Daphne her husband and friend. Check out her blog!
We took a break to roam around and check out the booths, vendors, etc. The line for Chipotle was huge, and I just missed running into two fellow runners who I have yet to say hi to IRL though we talk constantly on Twitter and DM. Kelly and Derrick both were going, but with thousands of people, it's a surprise I ran into anyone really. (Speaking of Kelly, she's close to her goal of raising $5,000 for her charity. If you have a paypal account, head over and give her a buck or two!)

Here then in no particular order are some observations about the Urban Cow:
  • One guy was a sweaty, sopping mess and reached OVER strawberries- bathing the poor fruit in his post race fluids. I couldn't in good conscience let another runner eat those so I trashed em.
  • It is a lot of work to get a race put together, we were only in one section but it took a lot of people, muscle and motivation to get things done. Hat's off to the people at the aid stations, booths, etc.
  • I've only been running for a short while, but I really love the disposable chips. Remember having to wait for someone to cut them off? That sudden stop = barf city.
  • Even though I didn't run, I didn't feel bad for not participating, I was a part of the event still, and it felt good to know that my efforts were appreciated. I got a lot of thank yous from runners and fellow volunteers. So much love!
  • Runners are beautiful people. Everyone is giving it their all sweating, smiling, and living! It was nice to be around the positive energy of runners.
  • It's nice to see Mayor Kevin Johnson at so many running events. All politics aside, it's good to see community leaders take an active role in physical fitness. He's up early on a Sunday, good job Mr. Mayor!
KJ and yours truly.

Congrats to all that participated! Also - I'm sending prayers and encouragement to everyone racing next week, lots of big races! Chicago, Portland, Buzz Oates, Royal Victoria, do it up friends!I will do another 'rah rah' post soon, just know that many of you are in my thoughts. Here are some more links to Urban Cow 'round ups' so to speak. Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Knee Update: Fitness Update : Music Update

Hello friends, I know a promised an update to the SF Marathon, suffice to say that it didn't do me any favors and though I had a blast it came at a price! After a visit to my doctor and my PT I was advised to not continue my daily mile walks, and to simply take it easy and do strength training exercises. So since then I've been returning to the gym to swim, ride the stationary bike (or fake bike as I like to call it) and do leg curls etc to strengthen up my leg muscles. My knee still aches, and it's infuriating and depressing and I'm about to call my doctor to get an MRI because I'm sick of people (experts) saying "sometimes these injuries takes months" it's just been too long!  The gym doesn't give the same rush that running does, even if I work out long enough to burn off the equivalent amount of calories. I feel captive, enclosed, shut in...there's nothing like being out there at 4:30 in the morning heading into the dark with water sloshing in my bottle and a headlamp lighting the way.
I miss running like a prisoner misses freedom.

The gym does offer some entertainment though, for a while those of you who follow me on Twitter have heard me talk about The Grunter and his noises. The Grunter is an middle aged, bald, white guy who lifts weights and when he really goes for it, makes a sound like he's giving birth. For a while there his groaning, moaning, and heaving was so loud that it overpowered the tunes in my earbuds. That's loud!

(This is not The Grunter, most likely his cousin back east)

That being said, there have been some good things to come from me going to the gym again, for starters I can listen to music. I don't run with music, and don't understand people who do this risky thing. I like hearing cars, dogs, muggers, etc when I'm out and about. I have a theory that people who listen to music while running come from very safe, clean, suburban neighborhoods. I don't live in south central LA, but I grew up in the hood and it's fostered a healthy skepticism and sense of my surroundings into me.  My blog is named after a Sick Of It All song, and as such I'm powered by a lot of punk/metal and hardcore. Lately I've been listening to the following bands and cannot get enough of them!
The first band is Trapped Under Ice - this tune is not an uplifting tune, it's despondent and bleak but the anger overpowers the feeling of dread. Listen to this before you attack that curling machine and you'll bend it like you would an aluminum can! (Well you'll at least think you can)

This next band is called Terror and as their name implies, they are another aggressive and angry band.
Hailing from the east coast by way of LA, Singer Scott Vogel and a rotating cast of characters round out a band who's lyrical content focuses on overcoming adversity, anger, betrayal, smashing the opposition, and the camaraderie between friends.
This song is called "Stick Tight" off of their just released album "Keepers Of The Faith" and has kept my heart rate up at many a gym outing lately.

I have friends that ask me, how can angry music make you smile? Runners should grasp this, it's a rush of adrenaline, and a feeling of being alive when you feel your blood run faster through your veins.
There's a similar endorphin rush, a high as it were from both live music and from running.
I suppose there are other parallels too, I've gotten injuries stagediving and training, there's sweat involved in both activities etc.
I share this music with you to show you part of what fuels me. In the big pie chart that is my motivation, this is still a part of the pie even at 40 years of age. More motivation comes from family, from the fact that life is short and I want to live it the best I can, and of course at the end of the day, from my faith. I don't touch on this much, we Catholics tend to try and not proselytize, but it's there!

Hope some of you enjoyed the music or at least got a taste of it to see what powers some of us out there!
Northern Californians, a PS: I will be volunteering at the Cowtown "Urban Cow 1/2 Marathon" So if you are there, say hello! Run if you can! Enjoy the weekend, and stick tight to your friends and family.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

San Francisco Marathon -Jose's Race Report Part 1

This race report is going to be in three parts, the race, the food and finally- friends and family! This way I can hopefully cover everything awesome that happened SF Marathon weekend. Since I am easily amused, this means I have to cover a lot of ground!

Part 1 - The Race
Saturday night I changed my goal from doing the 5k to "run as far as I can with my friends and have fun". I told my wife, she gave me her blessing, I threw a Hammer Gel into my waist pack and slept. Sunday morning came quickly. I rubbed my eyes and we hustled out of the hotel room and down to Starbucks to get oatmeal with Team Piccolo. Runners were making their way down the streets to the start finish, I made it a point to tell everyone with a bib "Have a good race!" Most got stoked and returned  well wishes, others didn't. I figured those were Euros or deaf, or both!
The view outside of the Park Hotel

Wave 8 meant we were at the tail end of the last wave going out, as we walked back past runners a woman clapped and gave me a thumbs up "yay! no meat athlete!" in reference to my shirt. I wish I had given her a high five, good vibes! Bart Yasso was at the start cheering on the waves and when he finally got to us we set off down towards the start finish line. I waved at Bart and told him "Congrats on Comrades!" he gave me a shout out over the PA and we were off! Again let me remind you dear reader that prior to this race I have not run further than 3 miles, so as we approached  the awesome Sports Basement cheering section, I did some quick estimating and figured the bridge was around 5-6 miles or so out. I told Richard and Jenny, "I think I can run to the bridge" and they gave me thumbs up. We kept along at a slow pace, talking to runners and discussing hydration strategies, running, friends who didn't make the race, all the things runners talk about.
When we got to the first hill, I walked partway up and enjoyed the beautiful views of the bay. It was so fun to run streets normally jam packed with tourists and have the roads all to ourselves. I felt my knee ache a tiny bit, but it wasn't agonizing. Without sounding like a tough guy, it was a manageable discomfort, not really a pain. As we crested to the toll booth I heard whoops and cheers from other runners and saw  people reach for their cameras and cell phones to take photos. I made it to the bridge!
Richard and Jenny looked at me "You ok?" I nodded "Yep, I think I want to run across this thing" and we did!
The end of the SF 10k, wait, there's no such thing? Ok carry on
Richard and Jenny, Marathon Runners!

The 10k point was such a rush, I had doubled my goal and was still feeling great! Here I was running further than I have in weeks, with perfect weather! I sensed that Jenny and Richard wanted to speed up, and felt my quads (especially on my right leg) ache. At the turn around point Richard left us and Jenny took a restroom break. I stopped to stretch and sat down to eat my gel and think about what just happened. I considered calling a cab, heading back and calling it a day. Jenny and I trotted back onto the bridge and I could tell she wanted to pick up the pace, I hugged her, told her to enjoy her race and she disappeared into the fog.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!
I walked for a bit on bridge, taking in the sights and sounds of garmins beeping and cars honking. What was I going to do? At this point I was 8.25 miles out. Could I do the half marathon?! My knee felt good, my legs felt good, but I was out of fuel. I considered bumming a gel from a fellow runner when my foot hit something, an unopened pack of Clif Shoks! I looked around, mouth agape, looked up, smiled a silent "Thank you!" and texted my wife to let her know I was going for it.
Mile 10 - You bet I was happy to see this!

These next miles were tough, but  rewarding. By mile 10 I knew I had it ! It was just 3.1 miles to the finish and I was hanging tough with other half marathon participants.
As the rolling hills made way to the fringes of Golden Gate Park, I saw runners with space blankets and knew I was near the end. I was running slowly now, and though I was sore, looking back I think I slowed more to savor the moment than to quell the ouch factor. One more turn into the park and the chute was there. 2:55 - my slowest half ever and I did it! One month off and I pulled off an impromptu half marathon!
This was such a mind boggler to me on so many levels. I'm so used to having specific goals and knowing beforehand what I'm setting out to do, never in a million years would I have thought that I had it in me to complete 13.1 after my month plus of being away from running.
I ran to the medical tent, got some ice for my knee and got a foil blanket. Then I took the shuttle back to my family (huge wait, whole other story) and didn't stop smiling for the rest of the day and most of this week!
Part 2 coming soon, thanks for reading and big thanks to my wife for being awesome! I love you!

Stoked Dork, not to be confused with stork

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

List Of San Francisco Marathon Race Reports

So since I'm a bit obsessive, I've been scouring for other race reports, and here are some that I've found via twitter, google, bathroom stalls, etc.
This runner is in Sacto (like me!) and put together a race report on her marathon run.
This runner is from LA and is a MUST read, seriously amazing photography!
I met Danica for two seconds at the SFM expo, she's a funny writer and usually isn't so tearful.
I make a surprise appearance in the background of one of the photos on this race report!
I'm straight edge but this guy isn't, and he makes a compelling argument for, well err running sober?

not a blog post but an LOL

and some more that I haven't read yet. If you have more, let me know!
I'll be updating this list so it's a work in progress

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going For It

Going for it is running and running is going for it. Whether we are an average Jose or Jane or an elite athlete, we are going for it. From the lowliest jogger making the transition to "getting in shape" to the ultra running monsters doing Western States and Badwater - we/they are all going for it! Injured runners mourn their days off, and even the process of RICE and healing is going for it. Runners read everything they can on running, books, magazines, twitter feeds, dailymile entries, this quest for knowledge is going for it.

How many times have we heard the excuses "it's too hot" "it's too cold" "it's too dark" "it's too bright" for not running? How many times have we seen fellow non-runners tell us about resolutions, diets, promises to get out there only to have them not follow through.

Running is the incarnation of the thought "I should get off the couch" and actually DOING it. Be proud if you count yourself amongst this demographic, most people don't get this far!

I'm at peace now with  my decision to run in the 5k at the San Francisco Marathon this Sunday because that's my way of going for it. I could stay home, but I can't. I will feel better knowing I'm moving forward even though this 5k will NOT be a PR! I'm viewing it as a starting over point, a baseline and a celebration of my  return (albeit painful) to running. I'm going to be there to run a small race, cheer on my friends, bang on my Cowtown 1/2 Marathon Cowbell, eat delicious food, and be a part of everyone going for it.
If you aren't going for it, start today, and if you are tapering, have a great race on Sunday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Motion is Murder

I used to be a runner, but eventually I stopped. Today I heartily enjoy video games, DVDs, my DVR, siestas, naps, resting, sitting, lounging, chilling and relaxing.

This is why it is so gratifying to read the following headline:

Finally! Some science based affirmation that will take the edge off the guilt as I sit down again to another day of sloth! Twitter, facebook, and more . If I'm lazy and sedentary with one medium, why not be lazy with all?

Now what would really be awesome is a headline like this:
"Sitting down makes you more of an internet sensation than the dude in the Old Spice commercials"
Till then, leave me alone, I'm going to sleep in my office after all, if God had intended for us to run, why'd he give us automobiles?

PS If you didn't get it! This is a tongue in cheek response to this very silly nonsensical post:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thank You San Francisco Marathon

I'm not sure what I'm doing with the San Francisco Marathon. I won entry, but there's no way I'm running or walking or limping 26.2 miles so I'm writing this is a thank you to the race organizers and hopefully to sort out my options.

What the heck do I do? Start the full and go for the half? Pace friends for a bit? So many unknowns  make me  miss the certainty of training. I enjoy the structure of mileage increases and decreases during the taper. I miss knowing at least a ballpark estimate of miles on a certain weekend, week, etc. Yet here I am with a few weeks to go with a bib and a chip and a bum knee, I'm open to your suggestions!

SF Marathon organizers, thank you for many reasons! With my first marathon, I felt a big disconnect with  the organizers and the race itself. The marathon website was clinical, confusing and at the risk of sounding really cheesy, made me feel a bit alone. I had questions about the race ended up getting answers from fellow runners on Twitter.  Contrast this with the SFM, where the team has been always a tweet, email, or wall post away! Questions are answered quickly, their social media has been updated frequently, and they have been a great conduit between runners. Whoever does their twitter deserves super kudos, I've seen other runners looking for advice have their queries retweeted, and even something as silly as "how's everyone's training going?" has really helped foster a feeling of community.

Marathons are a personal thing, and a group effort. We as individuals toe that start line,  but the race organizers help put it all together as a group effort along with volunteers. The SFM has done a bang up job of fostering a "we're all going for it" feeling among the participants. I hope the race day goes as well as the lead up! Thanks again guys!

Monday, July 5, 2010

So I Ran This Weekend

22 days until the San Francisco Marathon and I did a whole whopping 1.77 miles!
The Mrs. is training for a half, and  I was invited along for a few. I was so excited to do the pre-run ritual the night before of getting my gear ready. I'm very easily amused and ittle things like that get me excited. I woke up and waited for her to return and we set off down the street. How did it feel? Every time my right foot hit, it felt as though a tiny man with a heavy rubber mallet was inside my knee smacking it from the inside out. After a mile or so I told myself  "just wait till you warm up, you'll feel better" and continued to shuffle along - no dice. It did feel awesome to be out again, but it did not feel awesome to wince with every step. It also didn't feel awesome to 'run' so slowly! To put things in perspective, my 5k PR is 27.14 and I did half that distance in 26.47 ! At the least I have a better idea of where I am healing wise, and because I am an optimist, I'm excited that walking is pain free, even if running isn't.  Hope you had a great Independence Day!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Knee Update: "Monster Month"

Monster month for the non-injured runner is usually filled with lots of mileage, lots of eating, lots of excitement and pushing personal limits (I've never run this far before in my life!). For me it's been a lot of eating and sitting around! Here's my update: at the recommendation of my Dr. I got x-rays of my knee. He reviewed the images and let me know that I still have internal swelling but would regain range of motion once the swelling went down. I'm thankful it's not something serious! My routine for weeks has been to take ibuprofen 3x a day, as well as vegan glucosomine MSM 3x a day. I've also been aggressively icing and I think that's helped out, by aggressively I mean several times a day instead of just two or three times a day which is what I was doing the first week or so! I am to the point where I can walk now without too much of a limp, and can play with my kids! This is a huge plus for me and them. I can tire them out so they can sleep well, this helps me and the Mrs. out because then we rest well. Win win all around!

So what does no running for weeks do to you? I was cranky at first, then resigned. I have had minor setbacks (went to the gym once, went to see Iron Maiden, that's a whole nother post!)  I've gained about a 1/2 lb at most ! I don't believe it but the scale doesn't lie. I've also been sitting around eating Soy Ice "Cream" like it's going to disappear from the face of the earth with no ill effects except for maybe some brain freeze. My sleeping patterns have been about the same, though I don't sleep as well. I also wake up and one of my first thoughts is 'darn it, it's still achy' then I think 'oh! but it's LESS achy!' so - glass is half full? I'll say so.

Looking ahead - my short term goal is to run this weekend two miles, if I can do that I will be ecstatic!
The Mrs. is beginning her 1/2 marathon training and she's already left my mileage in the dust, which is a good thing again a win win for everyone.
If you aren't injured and are a runner, get out there today or tomorrow and do a mile for me!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Western States 100 Coverage

I've compiled a quick list of Western States 100 race coverage so bookmark this page and come back!
At the time of this posting there are still runners on the course in pursuit of the coveted belt buckles. I'm sending prayers to each and every one of them that they meet their goals, belt buckle or not!

Great write up in the Roseville Press Tribune

Awesome gallery at the Sacramento Bee site

Profile of an runner from the Tahoe Tribune

Twitter of course has tons of real time coverage from people on the course, following the race and actually working as volunteers.
Click on the link on the hashtag #WS100  to see all the tweets related to the race.
Twitter user and fellow runner @chmpgnepolitics took this photo at the finish line!

There's a Ustream page dedicated to the finish, you can pretend you are there!

I will attempt to insert the code here, if you don't see it try the link above.
Live Broadcasting by Ustream

Friday, June 25, 2010

Truth In Advertising + Western States Article

- Ever notice how many races advertise their courses as "flat and fast" when in reality, they are not? Sure, there's a lot of wiggle room since both flat and fast are subjective terms but let's not take things too far!
This morning I received an email from the race organization of a 10k I ran last summer.
The course claims the course is "smooth enough for strollers" when in fact last year's route meandered through an industrial park, through a parking lot, then up a steep almost foot tall curb, then dropped down into a rock filled trail ! A fun course to run, not so fun for stroller runners!
In fairness to the race director, the current route might be different but because the resolution of the map is poor I can't really tell.

- Sam McManis has a great article on the Western States 100 runners and their eating/fueling strategies.

I was going to go cheer them on but have a vegan dinner to attend and the finishers will be in Auburn way past our little one's bed times. Maybe next year?

I leave you with a photo of my at work trail which I haven't seen now in at least a month ! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Knees Update

Quick update - knee is still swollen, posting this to email my doctor!

First shot  was taken on the 13th, and the bottom one is a shot from this morning.
Sorry about the uneven tan :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Run Sacramento + Things I Miss About Running

Some odds and ends out of the way first :

1)I'm really going to miss Sam McManis's  Run, Sacramento blog on the Sacramento Bee, he was/is a great writer and very involved in Northern California. His contributions to the running community will be missed (at least via this mode as I hope he'll continue to write elsewhere!)

2) We finally got our daughter's T Shirt! The Veggie Chase director sent it in, so if you haven't please contact him and we'll see you all there next year!

3) Moving on to me and my knee - (Warning: Griping ahead) I still haven't run, heck I still haven't even been able to WALK without limping. I know it will heal eventually but it's tough. So much goes through my head - let me throw some stuff out there, these are things that I think about throughout my day.

I miss getting stuff ready the night before to go on a run. I miss wearing my Garmin, and the feeling of being half awake at the beginning of a pre-dawn run then feeling completely alive on the way home.
I hate not being able to run around and play with my kids. I tell myself "other people are so much worse off!", it doesn't make me feel better. I wonder if maybe I'm not cut out for long distances, I worry that I will not be able to run again, I beat myself up for running too long or too fast, I alternately curse and thank my doctor, I listen to music and wish I were listening to it on a run, I log into dailymile and find I have nothing to say..and then I know that there are others out there and at the end, just like reluctantly running when the body says "just sleep in" I have to get up and face the day. I can't wallow in this stuff, but it's still difficult to avoid. I ice my knee, I take my medication, I find myself staying awake later without a care.In my head I yell at people who don't run "You CAN get out there, you aren't injured, get off your rear!"

More than anything I miss the FREEDOM of running. I miss having that choice, I enjoy seeing things I don't normally see if I am not running. Workers loading pallets onto semi- trucks, EMTs and police on breaks, street people sleeping, wildlife, weather, the elements themselves.  Its' not the same when I am behind the wheel or looking out a window. If you are injured - I feel your pain! If you aren't, get out there and run already!

This song has nothing to do with running, but I've been listening to this CD non stop. Enjoy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Verdict : Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

I  keep staring at the screen trying to type a nice witty, pithy, "hey things are bad but it will get better!" pick me up line but I can't.  I returned from my doctor and was told I'm to not run for at least 2 weeks, and to take medication to stop the swelling. Nothing is broken, nothing is damaged permanently, but I am to take it easy while I heal. I can swim and bike, but that's about it. So now my training is derailed officially and  my goal of "Running a strong SF Marathon" changes to "Avoid a DNF in the SF Marathon" or even "walk/run the SFM". I'm also saying good bye to scaling half dome, which honestly would have been a bit much even at 100%, but still it's a dream I will hold on to. I love Yosemite and anytime I am there, I feel awe, joy, and wonder. The big rock will have to wait! My doctor was actually pretty cool about the whole ordeal. When I hestitantly asked him "you aren't going to ask me to stop running right?" he laughed and pointed out that aside from the puffy knee, my blood pressure, weight, etc. were great and that I was (in his words) "in great shape" this made me smile!
A PS to the Women's Race I mentioned below: My girls did great! Both mom and grandma kicked butt, and the post race snack line line was a bit too long. I think she's doing a race review here or elsewhere. I got to meet my twitter friend Layla and we discussed flatland/mountain  running techniques and defying the medical community (childhood doctors told her she couldn't run, she's obviously proving them wrong!). The flatland mountain training? Running in parking garages. Clever! Why'd I never think of that? If When I get better, I'm going to give that a shot! I learn the best stuff from other runners online, you guys all rule!

A short entry for now, thanks for reading and thanks to all my friends for the well wishes! In the big picture, this is not a big deal. I will run again, and I will overcome this obstacle as well.Overpower, overcome!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sacramento Fleet Feet Sports' Women's Fitness Festival

The Sacramento Fleet Feet Sports' Women's Fitness Festival benefits WEAVE, Sacramento’s primary provider of domestic violence and sexual assault services. Great beneficiary, great time of year to go running, a well organized race, and fast becoming a Sacramento staple. This 5k winds around the State Capitol and is a great summer race for Northern California women.
I'm posting this to wish every runner good luck and also to give a big "way to go!" to both my wife and my mom in law who are making this their 2nd year of participation!

That being said, dear  readers/fellow tweeps (I feel dirty typing that you know) daily mile denizens, etc. :
What do YOU think of all women events?
We belong to a gym that used to have an all women's section (which I thought was great, I am a father, a son, and a husband and believe that sometimes it's nice for women to have a section all to themselves) yet somehow the gym was forced to make it a 'co-ed' section, which doesn't really make sense to me.
On the other hand, some might say that having an all women's event sorta goes against the point Kathrine Switzer was making when she blazed onto the Boston Marathon on that fateful day in 1967.
Are all women's event's discriminatory? Are they a non-issue?

Lastly - what makes this last year's participant/bandit such a special snowflake that he went ahead and ran ? Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Injury - Day 3 Of No Running

So along with my goal of running the San Francisco Marathon, I had also planned on scaling half dome with my wife for my birthday this August. She had the great idea of having us practice on the rock wall at our gym, and it was/is a great idea! We went there - I was able to get half way up, she got all the way to the top, and an 11 year old girl scrambled up and down before we knew what the heck was going on.
I felt my IT band or knee or something feel a bit 'off' when I came down but didn't think much of it. Did 14 miles on Sunday felt spent but ok, then after a 4 mile recovery run on Monday - realized something was up and began spending a lot of time on the foam roller. This morning I realized my right knee was swollen, iced it, took ibuprofen and am now biding my time as it heals and hoping for the best.

These are the times when my patience is tested the most, the times when I question myself and think "is this really for me?" I can't tell what was at fault, the rock wall or the long run or my training or what.. I only know that I'm going to scale back my training till I heal and keep moving onwards. I feel like I will whine to anyone who will listen, but only a few folks really understand what it's like to invest in training and then have it come to a halt. It's a lot like driving in the fog, you know eventually you will exit - but you don't know exactly when.
I'll keep waiting, keep hoping, and try and keep my PMA. I was, no, I AM so proud of my training so far I know that I will heal and it's just a matter of time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend -Pre Taper Tantrum - Seen On My Run - A Giant Chicken

Before I get into my blog post, let me direct you all to the last post and thank Tim Coughlin for commenting on my previous entry. If you ran in the Veggie Chase or had a child run in the Veggie Chase, please message him and let him know your T Shirt size as they are printing up more. Pass this along to anyone who cares!

Last night I had a pre taper tantrum. Yeah yeah I know I am nowhere NEAR taper town, but I like the term so much I just had to use it :P.  Last night I suddenly realized my training schedule and real life calendar didn't jibe, chaos ensued and I was reduced to a mess. When I calmed down, I faced the sobering reminder that more than any other activity, running is a sport where the ultimate outcome depends on the individual. It is all on you! There's no blaming anyone else for your performance come race day, or any day for that matter. If you train, stick to your game plan, stick to your hydration/fuel strategy, you have a good chance of achieving the results you want. If you skimp on training, put off planning, procrastinate on investing in yourself - you will almost assuredly face disappointment come race day. It's so easy to blame others. I am guilty, I'm confessing, I'm letting everyone know! That being said, now that I'm regrouped - I'm at the halfway point and running 14 miles this weekend, July 25th seemed so far away scant weeks ago and now it's almost here. I'd like to take the time to let everyone know how awesome my wife is for putting up with me, you'd think after one marathon she'd say 'never again!' but she's rad for still indulging me. From post run band aids in the shower, to gobbling every bit of food in sight, to the aforementioned tantrums, to sighs when Sunday long runs take wayyyyy longer than expected, I love her very much and thank her for being the best coach and partner around!

 Stuff I saw this week while running!

 An interesting bag at the bail bond place downtown. What was in the bag? I wasn't about to find out. I hightailed it out of there.

Here's another interesting one, looks like someone stole someone's luggage and went through it here :( . We spotted this debris on the Fair Oaks side of the footbridge near Sunrise blvd.

I saw this huge chicken yesterday and was so excited. I'm a huge Daniel Pinkwater fan so well, that's all I will say on that subject! This is in or around N street.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone!