Monday, November 30, 2009

A new PR at Run Wild for a Child!

The Thanksgiving weekend finished up extra special for me -- I got a new PR, taking 2 minutes of my previous best!
It happened at the annual Run Wild for a Child race in San Francisco on Sunday, November 29th. And it couldn't have been on a better day. It was a perfectly clear day with temperatures in the low 50s, perfect for a good day.

Big congrats to Miriam who also set a new PR and to Chris and Bob who also had great days!

Sadly the event attendance has been declining for years and it felt much lighter this year than last. Normally those that register on the day of the event have to stand in line for 10 minutes or so, but this time you walked right up to registration. We were also able to walk right up the starting line as well. Usually you'd have to line up early or push your way through the crowd to get there. Sad, because this is a very nice event. It used to be a go-to event when it was called Run to the Far Side. It supported the Academy of Sciences at that time and the finisher shirt featured an original Gary Larson The Far Side comic. Larson and the Academy stepped away from this prime Thanksgiving weekend date and Run Wild for a Child stepped in.

I hope more people find this great event and help make it a personal tradition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Make that 14 Rock n Roll events

Remember how I succumbed to the news that the Competitor Group's 2010 Rock & Roll Endurance Series was adding a 12th and 13th event? Well now the number is up to 14 with the addition of the Rock & Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon. Ohh kay then.

As you know, I've set my goal for 2010 to be the first person to complete every event in this newly expanded series of races. Well, I'm committed and can officially announce that I've signed up for R&R Los Angeles.
This newly named event was previously the City of Angels Half Marathon held annually in December since 2006. In 2010 it will be moved up to October 24th so as not to conflict with the Rock & Roll Las Vegas Marathon. And under its new name, the race will still benefit Grove of Hope a foundation committed to providing science and technology education to children so they can understand, protect and manage the earth and the world around them. A very worthy cause given that our current generation of politicians will be leaving this generation with a rather disturbing mess to clean up.
The course looks pretty fantastic. It starts at historic Griffith Park near the Los Angeles Zoo, then heads down along the Los Angeles River (yes, there really is one), down Sunset Boulevard, past Echo Park Lake and finishes with a scenic view of downtown. If you haven't been to downtown LA in a while because you don't work downtown and wouldn't frequent it at night without an entourage of bodyguards, you might want to give it a chance. Since the Staples Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall and many other attractions have moved in the city center has been revitalized.
I'm really looking forward to this new event (and am secretly glad they didn't add another marathon - I think 8 marathons in one year, is plenty!)
Come join me for this fantastic event. Competitor has a special offer for the first 500 runners - register for just $55 with the coupon code LAROCKS.

Thanks also to my early supporters who have helped me raise the first $1,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You are the best! If you haven't made a contribution yet, donate today!

I'm still seeking corporations that want to join PowerBar in sponsoring me for this campaign. Details are here!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Listen to my interview on podcast

Hey gang! After the NYC Marathon I was interviewed about the race and my 2010 quest to be the first person to complete the entire expanded Rock and Roll Endurance Series. Take a listen. Big thanks to Zoran for putting this together. If you are looking for a good listen on running tips and race summaries, subscribe to today.

Thank you New York!

My 19th marathon was a tremendous treat as it was the largest US marathon - the ING New York City Marathon. It took me four years to make it to New York because I chose the lottery route and was a three-time loser. You see to get into NY you have to either qualify - it's harder than Boston; join a charity team; or win a spot in the lottery. It was a serious challenge qualifying for the Boston Marathon, which I did at Cal International Marathon in 2007 with a time of 3:19 (1 minute to spare) but my NY qualifying time was 7 minutes faster. Yikes.
I could have raised money to get in but I am devoted to helping the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and they weren't an official charity for NYM so my best route was the lottery. NYM's lottery favors people from NYC and the state of NY so my chances of getting in as Californian weren't so great. But they have a great policy that if you don't get in through the lottery three years in a row, you are automatic the fourth year. Hello 2009.
I travel a lot for work so we were able to use Hilton Honor points to secure free nights at the Waldorf-Astoria for the weekend and were off to Manhattan.
The weekend started with a trip to the Marathon Expo at the Javits Center, a massive convention center on the East side. Here I learned that more runners from outside the US participate in this event than those from within our own borders. This was very apparent as the corrals for international participants were packed and a million different languages could be heard. It was quite an experience.
Once inside the expo the Asics NYM official merchandise area was enormous and flooded with athletes wielding credit cards like ninja throwing stars.
I quickly made my way to the booth to officially sign up for the 2010 Rock and Roll Endurance Series - the whole series. As you can imagine, the folks working the booth were a bit surprised at my request but quickly pulled out the form and off I went checking off every single box. Yep, it's official. No backing out now!
The Competitor crew were great. They showered me with 2010 event t-shirts and wished me well. See y'all in Arizona in January!
There was an extra special treat in the Competitor booth - super star triathlete Sarah Reinertsen. She's an amazing challenged athlete who completed the Ironman Championships in Hawaii and was later a contestant on the CBS reality show, The Amazing Race. I so admire, Sarah, as she lets nothing get her down and proves every day that we can overcome any adversity through perseverance and heart. She was a delight to talk to and I picked up a signed copy of her autobiography. What a story.
Next up with saying hello to the PowerBar crew, especially the Team Elite managers. I'm very proud to support this organization who has been such a big supporter of Team in Training. They invited me to a victory party the night after the race. Sweet!
Next up was a quick visit to's booth where actor Anthony Edwards was spreading the word about Shoe4Africa, a great charity to help the youth of Africa.

It was a real thrill for my wife to meet him and he couldn't have been more humble and personable. Chatting with him was more like sharing experiences with another runner rather than being in the presence of an Emmy winning actor with an incredible resume. What a guy!
We took the next two days to see Manhattan and rest up for the race.
Race day started with a subway ride followed by the Staten Island ferry. It was pitch black out and as we crossed the water, the Statue of Liberty stood out from the darkness in majestic blue and white.
I think the ferry listed a little to the side and everyone rushed out to take a picture of Lady Liberty. Wish I had my real camera that day. The Blackberry camera just didn't do it justice.
After we docked we all made our way to warm buses that took us to the runner's village to await the start. It was drizzling a bit as the sun rose and Dunkin Donuts served as savior for us all by providing lots of warm coffee and pink and orange knit caps that were just the trick to keep the cold out.
The wait wasn't too long before we were in our corrals and listening to the national anthem.
NYM did a fantastic job with the start line. There were 42,000 runners this year and they split us into three waves of 15,000 each (that's the entire San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon per corral). These waves were further split into three color groups who each took off down a separate path for the first 8 or so miles. This start really kept the crowding to a manageable level and allowed us in Wave 1 to start running within the first 100 yards.
We crossed into Brooklyn which I didn't know from Newark until I got a patented experience. About half way through town out of the throngs of cheering supporters came a man with classically Italian looks and a cross expression who barked, "Hey, look what you're doin' to our streets. Get outtaheah!" He said it in jest (I think).
The crowds kept coming through Queens, over into the upper west side and on through to Harlem. Huge kudos to the Harlem crowd who provided the best music of the day (of course). It started with a killer gospel choir who were belting out inspirationals and ended with classic funk tunes from The Gap Band and Kool in the Gang. I think I logged my fastest miles in Harlem. Thanks, all!
We only got a brief encounter with The Bronx as took a quick left turn going from one bridge to the next and back into Harlem. Would have liked to see more but had a date with Central Park ahead.
As I waited in the corral for the start, I met a fellow Texan who was running his third marathon and first NYM, a woman from Anchorage running NY as her first marathon and a veteran NYMer from Connecticut named Amy who was hoping for a personal best. As the gun went off we all separated but weren't far apart most of the way. At about mile 17 I caught back up with Amy and we fueled each other for the remaining 9 miles. We were stride for stride through manhattan as we ran along the west side and into Central Park.
It helped a lot to have someone to pace with as we both held faster and stronger paces than we would have alone.
We turned the corner at the south end of Central Park as the crowds grew thicker and just as my energy was running low, there way my lovely wife leaning over the railings cheering for me. That was the boost I needed at mile 25.
Like most marathoners I am usually just holding on at mile 25 but Reesa gave me the lift I needed to pick up the pace and with Amy shortly ahead I was able to catch her with 0.2 to go as wel crossed the line under 3:30 - a PR for Amy, a third best for me.
Heat sheets and bottles of water were my usual solace as we worked our way up the long finisher's shoot and out. It was a fantastic run. The weather was ideal - in the low 50s all day an overcast.
To top off the experience, I popped over to the PowerBar party that night, after dinner with friends and got the rare opportunity to congratulate NYM winner Meb Keflezighi who finally returned a NYM victory to a US runner. I'm definitely patriotic about this but this win was all Meb.
He is an incredible runner, inspiration and role model for many of us runners. He was very gracious in his victory and even mentioned how those of us who run for Team in Training - beating up our bodies to help fight blood cancers -- are an inspiration to him. What a guy.

Run the ING New York City Marathon next year by entering the lottery today!

Big Kahuna Silver...again!

In October of this year, Patxi and I chased away a demon from 2008 but not in the way you may think. That year, we entered the Big Kahuna Triathlon as a relay team with Joel Rinsky. We went into the event knowing we were a strong team and thought there might be a chance we could place as a relay team. We're all competitive but didn't have this as our expectation. Joel took us out with a powerful swim, Patxi killed it on the bike and I had a relatively good day on the run. But each of us thought we could do better and we didn't think we had a chance of placing...until we saw the results. We had finished second and podiumed that day. We were excited but also crushed because we had lost by a mere two minutes! Ugh!

We all felt we could each have made up that two minute margin had we known how close the winner team was to us. But none of us knew who that team was. We vowed that 2009 would be our chance to take the crown.

A lot can change in 12 months and along the way, Joel had to drop out and Patxi found a replacement swimmer, who then, the week before the event, had to drop due to a stomach illness. Patxi recruited another stud swimmer friend, Matt, and we were again on our quest for gold.

Then the morning came. Patxi quickly found the other relay teams and this time we knew who our competition was. The team that had beaten us was just 10 feet away prepping for the race. The other relay teams had clearly identifiable numbers so we would be able to track them and ensure they stayed behind us.

It was foggy as Matt and Patxi prepped the transition area and the fog stayed in place as the expected start time came...and went. After an hour after the expected start time had passed, the race organizers were forced to cancel the swim. It was just too dangerous to stage the swim in that thick fog. It was heartbreaking for all but the right call.

So our triathlon started with Matt running from the beachhead to the transition area - as if he had just finished the swim, and passing the baton to Patxi who rode off. He set a blistering pace with very few cyclists able to match him. What a stud on the bike. He averaged over 24 mph the whole way.

As I waited for Patxi to return I kept my eye on the runner for the relay team that had beaten us in 2008. As Patxi came in with the second fastest relay time and passed the baton to me our competition was still waiting for his cyclist.

I quickly ran up the starting ramp and was off. Started out a bit too fast but was able to settle into a comfortable pace by mile 2. I was looking for relay participants and checked to make I wasn't being caught from behind by the younger and much taller runner from the competition.

The half marathon run is an out and back course and as I approached the turnaround point, manned by a 6 foot wooden tiki doll, I saw two relay runners coming back towards me. We were behind. And yikes, their runners were flying.

As I looped around the Tiki and began the return run I kept an eye ahead to the two relay participants I now had to chase down and another on approaching runners to see how much margin I had on last year's winner.

The two relay runners ahead of me kept up their blistering pace and seemed to distance themselves from me as we returned to the shoreline. Last year's winner finally went by heading to the turnaround point about a mile behind me. Yes!

When I finally crossed the finish line, Patxi and I high fived for a great effort but both knew our goal of first place had eluded us. We took solace in the fact that we had blown away the team that beat us the prior year, though, and left Santa Cruz satisfied with our day - and who wouldn't be having just finished a tremendous athletic effort in a gorgeous place on a nearly perfect day (other than that morning fog thing, that is).

When we got home and saw the posted final results we got a positive surprise however. The two relay runners who kept me at bay were not both in the men's event. One was part of a co-ed team and we had once again finished in second place. And to make this surprise even easier to take, we hadn't lost by a mere two minutes but were totally crushed by an incredible team who beat us by 4 minutes on the bike (anyone who can beat Patxi on the bike by that margin deserves to win) and me on the run by...gulp...15 minutes. My hat goes off to Richard Pego. He finished the 13.1 in 1:23 at a blistering 6:21/mile pace. Yow.

While we were sort of disappointed we didn't win the event we couldn't be happier with our performance especially since we vanquished our opponent from 2008 and clearly watched the mantle pass to a superior team.

Thanks to Reesa, Maha, Marga, Marie and the Uriz clan for coming out to support us on this day. You all made it so special for us.