Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween from Marathon HQ

Here's hoping you have a spooky night and eat too much candy. See you on the road!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

LA Marathon: Behind the Music

When I needed to quickly record a version of the song California Sun for the course video, I turned to my friend Sam Jones. He's a talented photographer, film director and musician. Sam and I had made the Wilco film I am Trying to Break Your Heart together, and he's more into music than anyone I know. The kind of guy who's got a deep vinyl collection, a bunch of vintage guitars, a band. I just knew he was the guy to help me get this done quickly. Sam pulled together an all-star session crew in about 5 minutes, including Pete Thomas (of The Attractions) on drums and Dan Lavery (of The Fray and Tonic) on bass. Sam handled guitar and vocals. We were graciously hosted by Kevin Augunas at Fairfax Recordings, which is an absolutely spectacular facility. Check out these shots from the session, as well as a short video clip of the band in action.

Sam, Dan and Kevin. The mixing board on the left is from Abbey Road Studios in London, circa 1971.

In case you forgot your drum kit, they've got plenty to choose from.

We recorded onto 2" tape. Vintage!

I'll go with the maple glow Gibson ES 335...

The tube amp collection.

Kevin on the dials.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Born to Run. Unplugged.

You are almost certainly familiar with the Bruce Springsteen hit, "Born to Run." It's also the title of the most entertaining book I've read all year. Ostensibly, this is Christopher McDougall's tale of the Tarahumara runners from Mexico. But the story digresses into essays on running biomechanics, running shoe history and the climactic account of an ultramarathon race in which Christopher is one of the competitors. He tells the story with the help of a nutty cast of memorable characters who are so original that I found myself Googling them to make sure they actually exist (they do). It sounds all over the place, and it is, but the narrative is beautifully woven together into a page turning gem. Anyone who has ever laced up a pair of running shoes should consider this a must-read.

Which brings me to the point: Christopher McDougall himself is speaking here in LA on Wednesday night. Take this opportunity to hear a passage read by the author. And pick up a signed copy while you're at it.

WHAT: Author reading & signing
Refreshments provided.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 14th at 7pm

WHERE: Traveler's Bookcase
8375 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(limited parking in back)


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chicago wrap-up

Finally back home after a spectacular trip to Chicago. Russ and I went together, worked the Expo booth and then ran today. We woke up to 30 degree temperatures, and there must have been 500 runners huddled in the Hilton lobby waiting until the last moment to make the freezing dash out to the starting line. I was in the D corral, which allowed me to get right up to speed in the first mile. You have to see what 40,000 runners looks like to believe it. An absolutely giant group, with logistics to match. I thought the management team did a good job with the start/finish area, water stations and post race food, given the size of the field. The course covers 29 neighborhoods throughout the city and never once goes higher than 24 feet above sea level. Talk about a place to run your PR.

Russ, not having run a marathon in 25 years, ran a very solid 4:57. His day included bolting from the 5 hour pace group and passing 1,000 runners in the last 2 miles. Way to finish strong! I ran a steady 3:51:09, helped along by the 3:50 pace group. My goal was to run consistent 8:45-8:50 miles, and I was able to do that. The first 13 miles were no problem, then the running becomes more labor intensive up to 20 miles. The last 6 miles took a lot of effort. If I didn't have the pace group to follow I surely would have lost at least 5 minutes in the last section of the race. The group was like a carrot dangling out there urging me to keep up. At 24 miles the course finally widens out, and Dean Karnazes passed me on the left. So I had a quick chat with him, then let him go. He was running the first of 2 loops of the course for 52 miles total on the day. What a guy. By the time I finished I was completely spent, and I was happy to know that I'd "left it all on the course." It was still in the low 40s, so the mylar heat sheet was welcome protection from the elements.

There are an incredible number of spectators on the route, holding all manner of signs out and screaming encouragement at the runners. Amazing fan support. My favorite sign read, "Trample the wounded. Hurdle the dead." Fortunately, I didn't have to do either!

Tomorrow morning at the office we'll have a debrief session and discuss our learnings with the staff. Stacy ran the Long Beach Marathon today, and she'll give us her report as well. All in all, a great weekend, and it's good to know that training actually works.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Game time

Four months of training, and now it's time for the rubber to hit the road. As you can see, I have everything laid out for the early morning wake up call. The reason my numbers aren't pinned on my shirt is because I'm still waffling on my choice of layers. The forecast is calling for 33 degrees and clear at start time, with temps rising to about 40 at noon. Chilly! Do I go with a ski hat or a baseball hat? Wear the old sweatshirt I brought and discard it at mile 2? How strong will the wind be? Do I throw a garbage bag on? This will all come down to a game-time decision.

I've signed up for the 3:55 pace group to ensure that I don't go out too fast, which I've been guilty of in the past. Besides, if I'm not constantly checking my watch, I can enjoy the scenery and the experience.

If any of you are running the Long Beach Marathon tomorrow, look for our own Stacy Embretson. She was in the Expo at the LA Marathon booth and will be running the event as well.

Russ and I had another enjoyable day in the Chicago Expo meeting participants from all over the world, but it was exhausting. So I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep.

I'll report back after the race.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Faces of Chicago

I spent the entire day in our booth at the Chicago Expo meeting marathoners from all over the world. It was so interesting that I felt compelled to shoot photos of some of the runners I met. It was a virtual UN of running, with so many countries represented. This is but a small sampling of my new international friends.


Lisa Hernandez
San Antonio, TX
Lisa used to live in LA, and she's running to raise money for Livestrong.

Kionari Yoshida
Yokohama, Japan
Ken is studying to be a teacher and ran LA 4 years ago.

Glenda Anderson
Luke Marshall
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
They both work in the finance industry and run together.

Booth 689!

Colin & Kristin Cooley
Hermosa Beach, CA
Both aiming to run sub-3:20 in Chicago.

Bakhtar Lahcen, 42
Chahid Basidi, 63
From Morocco
Bakhtar has run the legendary Marathon des Sables, and they travel the world running marathons.

Benedicte Toto, 29
Cecile Canuel, 35
Paris, France
They are next door to us in the Expo working at the Paris Marathon booth.

Jay Madhure, 61
Northridge, CA
He's run 20 consecutive LA Marathons.

Athit Thongphithak, 52
Prayut Thongphithak, 48
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Running Chicago for the first time.

Neal Glynn, 75
Chicago, IL
About to run his 37th marathon.

Jesus Nieto
Pablo Ceron
Mexico City, Mexico
Pablo is a former elite runner with PRs of 28:20 in the 10K and 13:44 in the 5K.

Rohit Vasa, 62
Chicago, IL
This will be his 55th marathon.

Charles Sayles, 72
Glendale, CA
After Sunday's race, Charles will have run at least 2 marathons in each of 50 states.

Bill Orr
Bartow, FL
Bill is the elite coordinator for the LA Marathon, among other events.

Melissa Kaul
Anmaree Rodibaugh
Chicago, IL
They both want to move to LA!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who's with me in Chicago?

I've arrived safely at the Hilton Hotel here on Michigan Avenue. As the official host hotel of the Chicago Marathon, there's a lot of activity here: The Nike pop-up store in the lobby, daily warm-up runs, a travel desk and the Marathon logo all over the place (even on the room keys--nice branding!). It feels like race central, and it is. Ran into Kenyan elite runner Vincent Kirpruto in the lobby tonight, along with Miriam, his agent. She says he's fit and ready. That's saying something, considering he's run 2:05:47. It's also worth noting that Wesley Korir, our 2009 LA Marathon champion, is racing here. I have to say that I'll be rooting for him, if it's possible to do that while I'm out huffing and puffing at my 9:00 pace!

Will be up first thing in the am for a warm-up run, then it's off to the Expo at McCormick Place. If any of you are here, please come visit us at BOOTH 689. I'll be there both days, and Russ will be joining me on Saturday.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pete Carroll invites us to practice

From one legend to another: Pete and our own Rod Dixon

Pete took time to pose with the LA Roadrunners pace leaders

Today our SRLA leaders and LA Roadrunners pace leaders got a special treat. USC Coach Pete Carroll invited us down to watch him run practice at Howard Jones Field on campus. After that, Coach spent almost an hour mentoring our leaders. It was a fascinating afternoon, and Coach shared with us many of his secrets of success. He's distilled his vast experience down to some very practical bits of wisdom. My particular favorite was this question that he asked of the leaders in attendance: "How many of you have a philosophy that you can explain in 25 words or less to your runners?" That's just great advice. His philosophy at 'SC? "Always compete." Coach also talked extensively about the importance of a winning attitude, and he took time to answer questions and sign autographs afterwards. We'll soon post a video of his talk so you'll be able to learn more about his Win Forever philosophy. And look for more great things coming from our friendship with Coach Pete in the coming months.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Performance visits Roadrunners

Matt Mahowald of New Performance Nutrition is getting me up to speed for next Sunday's Chicago Marathon. He will also be visiting our Roadrunners training program on a regular basis. On Saturday Matt stopped by to give us "Marathon nutrition 101." As someone who's been following his program since the middle of June, I can vouch for the benefits of his knowledge. For instance, in that time, my body fat has dropped from 23% down to 12.5%, I've lost 14 pounds, and my cholesterol is down 20%. It's been so educational, and without the annoyance of some draconian diet. The program is really about making smart choices and paying attention to what one eats. Many of us go out of our way to follow a detailed training program for our runs, so why wouldn't we do the same thing for what we're eating? It's like a nutrition road map. I've kept a log detailing every single meal I've eaten since June. With blood tests every two weeks, Matt is able to dial in a program that really works. I highly recommend getting in touch with Matt if you're at all interested in getting a nutrition point of view while you're training.


Malibu recap

Last weekend's Malibu Xterra Trailrun was as much fun as I've had in years at a running event. This photo shows my colleagues Russ Pillar and Stacy Embretson along with myself and our crack pitcrew. Stacy posted a smoking fast time of 1 hour 41 minutes for the 18K route. Good for 7th overall and first place in her age group. Well done! And thanks to Brennan Lindner for putting on such an enjoyable race.