Friday, November 11, 2011

LA Marathon Training Begins

I've been a runner for most of my adult life, competing in races here and there, but mostly the shorter distances. Cross country in high school, 5Ks, 10Ks, and more recently, Half Marathons. But never the runner's ultimate achievement: The Marathon. I know, people run Ultras and stuff, but that's just crazy. Sure, I've done plenty of "cyclist's marathons", but according to my friends who have done both, the marathon is definitely harder. Alison's story is pretty much the same, so awhile back, we decided to run a marathon. Since we live in LA, we decided to run the LA marathon. Natural choice, no? I have a far off hope of qualifying for Boston, but I don't think that's a very realistic goal for my first marathon. That would take a time of 3:10, and I'm going to be more like 3:35. Having recently read Hal Higdon's Marathon, I elected to use his 18 week training program. He offers multiple iterations of his program for different levels of runners. I went with the Novice 2 program. This program suggests that it is for people who may or may not be running their first marathon, but have a history of running and run an average of 20-30 miles per week. Right in my wheelhouse.

Training
I've just come off a mini break of about a week after running the LA Half Marathon on Oct 30th. I PR'ed in that one at 1:44. My goal was sub 1:45, so I'm pretty happy with that. This week marks 18 weeks to go until the LA Marathon, so time to get off my butt and begin training. The program is basically short to mid length runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and the long run on Sunday. Fortunately, I still have Saturday to get out on the bike! Alison is following the same program, so we are working in our runs where we can. For me so far, the only place I can fit in the weekday runs is in the morning before work. Twice this week, that meant getting out the door at 5AM in the 45 degree super dark morning. I snagged the headlight off my bike so I can see where I am going. That's been working pretty well, but I think I'll need to pick up one of those lights that you can wear on your forehead. I also picked up a running beanie when I was out today. I tried one of my normal wool beanies on Tuesday, but by the time I was done, that thing was just gross. Wednesday was better. I didn't have any morning appointments, so I was able to get out for a run with Alison. We put Scotty in the BOB, and set off for a 5 miler. We wisely parked in the Starbucks parking lot so that we would be able to easily talk ourselves into a post-run latte. Thursday was another early morning job, but a bit warmer.
Even though it's been cold and dark, and will continue to be, I must say that I am happy to be training for a race again. I think I run better and follow a plan better when I am doing it for a race. As usual, you can follow my training via the widget on the side of the blog, but I am sure I'll be back here soon to write some more!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Gabby!

Off to Seaworld for Gabby's 7th Birthday! But not before a stop for donuts!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Home Improvement Project #1 Complete!



Well, it took the better part of two weekends, but the dog run is done! The pup now has a nice big fenced-in area to run around in. A big thanks to my dad and brother for helping out!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New House, New Projects!

So we bought a house. It's an old house (1940), but it's in great shape. There are certainly some things we intend on changing/updating, but we're pretty excited to own our little piece of the rock. Some things need rather immediate attention, such as the dead lawn, decaying garage door and the necessity of a dog run to contain our dog. Some other things are live-able, and we can change them in time - small kitchen, minimal closet space. So what is project number 1? The dog run, of course! Pooch has to have somewhere to live too, right?

Since the majority of our 13K sqft. lot is in front of the house, there is a perfect little yard in the back, begging to be fenced in. This one will get tackled first. Off to Home Depot! Back with supplies for a redwood fence. I'll build the fence first, then later I will add a base of decomposed granite and top it with astroturf (easier to clean poop off of that than off of real grass).



Firstly, a shiny new post hole digger! Didn't take long at all, and I was down to a depth of 3ft. Dropped about 6 inches of gravel into the bottom, and planted the 4x4x8 pressure treated post. Secured the post at level using stakes, and dumped 100lbs of Quickset down the hole. Added water, and voila! First fence post set.


So far so good... I'll be doing the rest on Friday. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ride Report: Livestrong Challenge Davis 2011

This past weekend was a busy one for me. Full of cycling and visiting friends and family. It started with a stop in San Francisco to visit my college buddy and fellow cyclist Ryan. I then joined my Team Fat Cyclist mates from around the country (and beyond!) at the Livestrong Challenge in Davis, CA. Wrapped it all up with a visit to my Aunt Kathy and cousins in Sacramento.

First Stop: SF
I made pretty good time up to SF once I got out of the madness that is Friday afternoon LA traffic, and rolled into the city around 6:30. Since Ryan lives next to AT&T park, and there was a game preparing to start, parking was next to impossible. Fortunately, Ryan had a solution. He had me park a few miles away, and we hopped on a train back to his house. It was rather interesting, trying to hop on a train full of Giants fans with luggage and a bike. Somehow, it worked out.
After dropping my stuff at Ryan's, we headed out to join some friends for dinner. We ended up at a place called The Front Porch. It's a cozy little place that offers several southern specialties - namely, Fried Chicken. You can also get King Cobra malt liquor, as Craig enthusiastically shows.

As usual, we ordered way too much food, and did a pretty good job of making sure none of it went to waste. We capped off the night by visiting a dive bar across the street - as in, the kind of joint that plays mariachi music, and serves Pacificos in 32oz bottles. Needless to say, the music came to a screeching stop, and several heads turned when the 4 hueros walked in the door. Ha, not really, but it wouldn't have been a surprise if it did! A few beers later, we called it a night and made our way back to Ryan's.

Ride 1: Mt. Tam
Since I had most of the day to kill before I headed out to Davis, I suggested to Ryan that we go for a ride. I asked for something mellow since I had the 105mi Livestrong Challenge waiting for me the next day. "Sure, no problem... I know just the loop for us." said Ryan. He proceeded to say something about an easy 30mi loop, but I was watching the Tour de France and was only half listening to what he was saying. My mistake.

We picked up some coffee and pastries, and made our way over the bridge to Mill Valley. Found a spot to park, geared up, and we were rolling. It was surprisingly cold, and I was glad I had remembered to bring my riding jacket. The ride started off fairly flat as we winded our way up through San Anselmo. Then we started the climbs. Up, up and away we went. All told, we ended up climbing 3100ft over 31 miles. Not quite the easy ride I was looking for, but it was a beautiful ride indeed. 


Davis
After lunch with Ryan, I headed out to Davis to pick up my ride packet, and attend the Livestrong Appreciation Dinner. The top fundraising teams were invited to the dinner, totaling about 150 people. As a member of Team Fatty, I was invited to the dinner. It was set in the outdoor courtyard of the Robert Mondavi Center at UC Davis. A spectacular venue, and perfect weather for outdoor dining. As we sat down for dinner, I noticed a familiar person walk by my table. That's right folks - the man himself, Lance Armstrong was in attendance. I snapped this quick shot of him as he said hello to Fatty's table. Yeah, It's safe to say I was a bit starstruck. The dinner got underway, which was a rather appropriate pasta dinner catered by Buca di Beppo. Afterwards, there was a Q&A session with Lance, and several other Livestrong people about the organization and where it is headed. It was a very inspiring evening, and I am very proud to be part of an organization that does so many good things for those fighting cancer. I am also very proud to be a part of Team Fat Cyclist. If you haven't checked out his blog, you really should. Elden "Fatty" Nelson received every award offered by Livestrong this year for his fundraising efforts. While I have nowhere near the super-human fund raising abilities that he does, I am happy to have contributed and to be considered part of his team! After the dinner, I headed back to my hotel to get some solid sleep.

Ride #2: The Livestrong Challenge
Being rather excited to get started, I showed up about an hour early. It was just before 6AM, and I was due to be at the starting line at 6:45 for a team photo. So, I got my bike ready and pedaled around town for a bit. While I was riding around the start line, I decided to take a picture of it. There was a nice lady there that offered to take a picture with me in it, so I happily handed over my camera. Thanks spectator lady! I met up with a few other Team Fatty members that had also arrived early, and we spent the rest of the hour chatting about our impending ride. Eventually the start hour rolled around, and the Livestrong folks brought the whole Fat Cyclist group up to the front for a team photo. 
Photo Credit - Fatcyclist.com
A pretty awesome looking group I think! Next up were some pre-ride announcements, and a pep-talk from Lance, in which he talked about turning Livestrong HQ into a pie shop one day. After a very nice rendition of the National Anthem, they started the Lance and Pals group, and then about 1 minute later, sent us off. Now that he's not racing anymore, I guess he needed a head start! A large group of about 20 or so of us formed into a double pace line and motored out of town at about 20mph. At about mile 10, a faster group of 3 guys rolled by us. I must have been feeling pretty good, because I jumped on the back of them and sped up. They were averaging about 24mph, which is pretty darn fast for me. I stuck with them for about an hour, taking hard pulls every few miles, until we got to the hills. At that point, I just didn't have much left, and dropped back. Somewhere on Cardiac Hill, Fatty rode by and encouraged me to dig deep into my suitcase of courage! I gave it my all, and made it over the hills to the halfway point. After a brief rest at the turn-around, I headed out with Fatty's group again, and held on for awhile before falling back into a more manageable pace. I rode most of ride from there on out solo, until I caught the group again at mile 70. I told myself that I was going to take some decent rest time, but Fatty and several others were just heading out, and I wanted to give it one more shot to see if I could finish with them. Sadly, I didn't last much more than a few miles this time, feeling pretty cooked. I cruised along solo awhile longer, chatting with other riders as we passed each other, until the final rest stop at mile 90 or so. I refilled with water for the last stretch, and headed out. Somewhere around mile 95, MattC and a group of about 4 other riders passed by me, and I decided to jump on. A few miles on the back of their train gave me the rest that I needed to make the final push. I took a turn at the front for the last couple of miles into the UC Davis campus. After that, the group kinda splintered, and Matt and I rode in to the finish together. Even though it wasn't my best performance, I really enjoyed the ride and hanging with a great group.



Meeting up with the Cousins
After the ride, and a stop at In-N-Out Burger, I headed out to Sacramento to visit with my Aunt Kathy and my cousins. I was greeted with very cold beer, and lots of questions about my ride. I spent some welcome time in the pool with the kids, and enjoyed a very nice dinner of Ribeye Steaks BBQed by my cousin Brian. I must say, it's very nice to be in the company of family when you are away from home and exhausted! I was very glad to have the opportunity to catch up with them, and hope I get a chance to reciprocate when they visit!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Running Program

Since I seem to be running out of time at the end of the day, I've decided I'm going to have to make more time at the beginning. Up at 4:45 today and out the door. Just an easy one today, 3.2mi @8:30. I've forgotten how nice running early can be. Nice cool weather, beautiful sunrise and sharing the road with far less cars. Looking forward to the next one!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Napa Gran Fondo (100mi route)

This was my second year doing this ride. Substantial improvement over last year. Dropped about 40min off last year's overall time (http://app.strava.com/rides/424729). I guess training works? More to follow in the ride report...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ride Report: B.O.B. Ironman


A couple of weeks ago, we picked up a new stroller for the little buddy. We were looking to replace our current jogging stroller, which was an old steel sled with wheels. After looking at a few different ones, we selected the B.O.B. Ironman in Livestrong yellow, of course... Pretty light at 23lbs, and has a solid feeling aluminum frame. It is a bit narrower than a regular BOB, which makes it nice when passing runners going the other way. I was impressed with the way it tracked, even when on a bumpy dirt trail. As expected, running into the wind was no picnic, but wasn't as bad as it could have been thanks to the relief vent between the seat and canopy. Little buddy seemed like he enjoyed the ride!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ADA Tour de Cure Ship to Shore Century - Ride Report

Yesterday, I participated in the Tour de Cure Century in Long Beach. This is the second year I have done it, having done the 60 mile version last year. I really enjoy this ride because it raises money for a great cause, and the route circumnavigates my hometown. To attract more riders this year, they added a 100 mile option. Funny that more miles would lead to more riders! The route was the same as last year, plus a 40 mile jaunt down to the Huntington Beach Pier and back. I signed up along with my riding buddies, Jeff and Oscar. The weather was forecast to be clear and about 85°F. Perfect.

The Ride
I woke up at 4:30 to begin my pre-ride routine. Went with my Cat 6 Racing Squad kit this year. Grape nuts with a banana, and a double espresso (Peet's French Roast, of course). The morning of a long ride is NOT the time to experiment with new breakfast foods - trust me on that one. Gathered up my gear and headed out to pick up Oscar on the way. The sun was just rising as we arrived at the Queen Mary and checked in. Snapped a photo of it:


We met up with Jeff and made our way over to the start queue. We were all pretty excited to get under way. Some dude sang a really nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and then it was time to go.
Oscar and Jeff, ready to go.
The countdown rolled to zero, and we were off! There was a group of guys from Canyon Velo leading the pack, so we fell in behind them and made the warm-up tour down Shoreline drive and on to Ocean Ave. Once on the harbor bridges, the pace accelerated, and the lead group quickly dropped the rest of the field. We held tight with them, and went up and over the bridges.

The Bridges... Or, The Part Where I Almost Eat Pavement.


We had a motorcycle escort, which was cool except for the part where he almost killed me. I'll explain... The bridges, which were closed to cars for our event, have metal expansion grates every 30ft. or so to allow for expansion and contraction of the bridge. The grates would swallow a skinny bike tire whole, so they have to put thin plywood covered by a thin carpet over the grate on one of the two lanes in order for us to ride over them. No big deal - did it last year. You can roll right over them at high speed, with little more than a small bump and a thwack thwack noise.  I crested the first bridge and accelerated down the backside, reaching about 40 mph, happily thwack thwacking my way over the grates. Cue Mr. Motorcycle... Dude comes flying by me at about 60 and changes lanes into the grate covered lane right in front of me. All the turbulence and mass from his 600lb Goldwing sent the carpet flying and turned it into a crumpled mass just past the plywood. I had a few seconds to react and grabbed a two handfuls of brake. Quickly realizing that I had nowhere near enough time to stop before the carpet mass, I opted to bunny hop over and hope for the best. I jumped for all I was worth and cleared the heap. Just as I was thinking "Hey, I made it!", I looked ahead and saw that I was going to have to do it all over again. And again. Finally, moto boy got the clue, and moved back into the other lane. Crisis averted, but damn, that could have been bad!

Oscar on the Vincent Thomas bridge with LA Harbor in the background.
Jeff - always setting the pace and holding his line!
Anchovy St. Hill
We made our way through San Pedro and onto the Anchovy St. hill climb. The climb isn't long, but it's steep! 213 ft in 1/2 mile. It's a 15% grade most of the way. I lost touch with the Canyon Velo group on this climb, but ended up catching them again about 3 miles down the road at PV Dr. North. Somewhere along the way down PV Dr. North, we dropped Oscar. I heard him say something about his legs burning, and when I looked back again, he was gone. We wouldn't see him again until the Terranea rest stop. I must admit, my own legs were burning, but I fought on (a dumb move that caused me to struggle later in the ride). Those Canyon Velo guys were fast! Jeff and I led the pack into the rest stop at Terranea with a well timed sprint from Golden Cove. I was excited to see my entire family waiting for me there! I chatted with them for a bit while scarfing a PB&J sandwich, made by one of the awesome volunteers from PV Bike Center. Oscar caught up to us here, and we all continued on.

PV East and down to Long Beach
While not the steepest climb of the ride, PV Dr. East is probably the longest continuous grade. It is 1.9mi at an average grade of 5.1%. I took it easy on this climb, knowing I still had 60 miles left to ride. Made it to the top in 12:48. From there, it's all downhill back to Long Beach, with a fast spin along Paseo Del Mar in San Pedro. The section through Wilmington is pretty boring, but it's the only way back! This year, there was some road construction in that area, and we got a bit mixed up on where we were supposed to go. I ended up leading the pack we were in to Anaheim St., and proceeded towards Long Beach. From mile 50 until shortly after our rest stop at Mile 60, I was feeling pretty beat. Fortunately, I started feeling better after having some food. Wahoo's was staffing the Mile 60 stop and handing out chicken roll-ups - Yum! Oscar and I cruised along together for awhile, feeling about the same. Captain America (Jeff) took off and we lost sight of him.

Westminster and Huntington Beach
The next section of the ride took us through Seal Beach, and on to Westminster Bl., which cuts through the Naval base. It was a long, hot, windy and miserable section, with a crappy bike lane and cars flying by at 65+. Certainly NOT my favorite part of the ride. Oscar and I did a good job of taking turns drafting, and by the time we reached the intersection at Bolsa Chica, we had caught up to Captain America. There was another rest stop shortly after we rolled into Huntington. I chowed down another delicious PB&J, which was quickly becoming my comfort food of choice on this ride. They also had a novelty called ICE! It is amazing how much more refreshing your sports drink is when it's cold. After this stop, I really began to get my second wind and feel better.

The Home Stretch, a.k.a. The part where I lose my wedding ring
Somewhere between that last rest stop, and rejoining PCH at the coast, I lost my wedding ring. It's always been kind of a loose fit, but even more so lately - I'm 192lbs now, was about 215 when I got it. The funny thing is, during that crappy section on Westminster, I remember feeling it moving around and thinking to myself "I probably shouldn't wear this when I ride". A few miles later, I remember hearing a twang of something hitting my wheel, but dismissing it as a rock. Of course, I have no idea where that was. I was bummed. I really liked that ring! Time to go ring shopping I guess. Back to the ride... As we rolled down Main St, and turned onto PCH, I was feeling great, and led the charge for awhile. Along PCH, and down onto the Bolsa Chica Flats I led, my legs feeling strong. Oscar and I accelerated away from the group, with the exception of a skinny little asian guy who stayed with us. So, it was me, Oscar and then the skinny guy - riding the flats at about 24mph. I decided to take a rest, and let someone else pull for awhile, so I peeled off and dropped back, figuring to tuck in behind the skinny guy. He motioned to me to jump back in the middle behind Oscar and said "I make a horrible draft, you're better off behind him (Oscar)". I could see he was right, so I tucked in behind Oscar. And so it went for the remaining 25 miles - Oscar and I pulling, with the skinny dude riding the draft. And get this - At the end of the ride, in the last 100 yards, skinny dude pulls out of the draft and charges ahead to the finish! We though that was pretty funny!

Overall, a great ride and I look forward to doing it again. This was probably the least amount of training I have done for a century, and it definitely made a difference. I think I will train a little harder next year! Stay tuned for the Napa ride on May 21st!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tour de Cure Century - Done.

I'll write a ride report later - perhaps after an ice cold beer and a cheeseburger, but for now here is a summary...

Halfway! 50 to go...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strava: An Awesome New Site for Cyclists

A few weeks back, as I was watching Paris-Nice (one of the great spring classic bike races) on Versus, I noticed an ad for a new ride logging site called Strava. I've been pretty happy with dailymile, but it's really more of a general activity logging site as opposed to Strava, which advertised itself as specialized for cycling. They weren't kidding... It is definitely geared (ha ha) towards cyclists. However, it does give you the opportunity to log other activities like running or swimming. What makes it different is the ability to evaluate your ride based on community entered segments of your riding area. For instance, take my ride from today. I rode up and down Hawthorne Blvd. 3 times and then uploaded the data from my new Garmin Edge 500 (Had an Edge 305, but it was kinda broken). Since this is a fairly popular climb for cyclists in my area, someone in the Strava community had already created a segment of this climb. Strava analyzes the data from my ride, and then compares my performance to my previous rides over that segment or any others that may have been created along my route, as well as comparing it to any other users that have ridden it. As the 11th fastest rider to have climbed this segment, it seems I have room for improvement! If you earn a PR (Personal Record) or  KOM (King Of the Mountain) status for the segment, it will let you know that as well. It costs $6/month or if you sign up for a year (I did), it's $59. For as much feedback as it gives you and its well designed layout, I feel it is worth it. I look forward to tracking my progress as I train this season.

Speaking of training this season, I've decided to lay off the booze until after I ride the Napa Gran Fondo at the end of May. I'll miss it, but it's really one of the easiest ways for me to drop some more lbs. so I won't have to drag them up Howell Mountain! I am allowing some wiggle room for special occasions like Easter, but even then, I am limiting myself to one glass of wine. Here's to hoping my family invests in some really big wine glasses!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Salmon on the grill!

Sliced some up for sashimi and it was delicious! Now grilling some with a honey glaze!

Portland Salmon Fishing




Wow! It's been quite awhile since I've updated this thing. Tons of fun stuff going on with the Grillos, and finding time to write was pretty low on the priority list. Half Marathons, Bike Races, and Scotty's 1st birthday - to name a few! I do promise to not let another 5 months go by without a post! I have a lot in store for the rest of 2011, so there will be plenty to write about! More bike rides, including the Livestrong Challenge in July, and Levi's Gran Fondo in Oct. Also on tap: Marathon training! That's right, LA 2012! It may be a bit ambitious, but I am going to train for 3:10 and the BQ for 2013 that comes with it ;-)

Most recently, I made a trip to Portland, OR to go salmon fishing with my fellow sales reps. We did this same trip last year, with disastrous results. It happened to be the day of Portland's worst storm in 20 years. 4 ft waves (on a river!), torrential freezing rain, and a lousy fishing guide (giant lazy fat dude claiming to be a viking). He did have a rather creative way of holding his iPhone while arguing with his girlfriend (take a close look at his beanie). Not only did we suffer being soaked to the bone, but we got skunked as well. No fish for us.



This year was MUCH better. Temps were mild, the sun was out, and the fish were biting. As you can see above, I caught my limit. A 20 pounder! We all ended up with a fish, and had a great time on the river.