Sunday, January 28, 2007

This What

Went to a party in San Gabriel last night for TNT alum Nick. Coaches Jimmy and Kate were there along with other TNT alums Ernesto, Tiffany and PJ (Nick's wife). Huge party, spilling out into the backyard where there was a dj, taco chef, bar, and hard-drinking folks. Even the rain didn't slow things down. This was Nick's 30th birthday and I thought he celebrated well.

Coach Kate has committed to monster goals this year. In addition to her full-time job, she is bossing TNT SGV Summer Team and has hired her own coach to prepare her for an Iron Man Triathalon in August. That's something like a 2 mile open water swim, followed by 144 mile bike ride, and topped off by a marathon. ( I'm still recovering from just the marathon.) But Kate is very focused and a hard-charger. I believe she'll be successful.

By the same token, Kate believes I'll be successful in breaking 4 hours the next time I try. This led me today to plan a few races for '07. I signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon in September because they give out a big silly medal.

And in October, the Chicago Marathon.

This is the 30th anniversary and will bring my running full-circle. Back in 1977, the year of Nick's birth, I signed up to run the very first Chicago marathon. I got a tee-shirt and race number in the mail. (They don't mail them anymore. Most races want you to attend a race expo where they'll sell you everything from water bottles to special "quick mist" that you spray on your shoes to make you go faster. ) In any case, I trained a little and drank a lot and never made it to the start line. But I vowed to run the marathon in 1978.


In 1979 I moved to California. And so my marathon vowing continued throughout the years until 2005 when I run Honolulu with TNT.

Now I want to drive a nail through Chicago and break 4 hours there.

I'm thinking of skipping the Palos Verdes Marathon and just taking it easy until May. Then I'll start training in earnest for Chicago.

Lots 'o writing work. Still developing that manta ray show. Plus there's a new animated series that needs scripts. It's about five pieces of sushi that come to life and fight crime.

I can't say 'no' to that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Now What?

Bummed. Ran a little yesterday and felt old and slow. Post-marathon recovery is a cruel tease. Just when you most crave running endorphins, your body is too trashed to allow a safe harvest.

For the moment, my new goal is to run the Palos Verdes Marathon in May. A small marathonlet with few hundred runners, PVM follows a hilly course down at the end of the Harbor Freeway near Point Fermin.

I could train leisurely without thought of personal records.

After that, I'll get serious.

My next goal is to break four hours.

On the writing side, plenty of development work, including a fun animated project that I thought had died last fall. It's about a manta ray who decides to help humanity whether they need it or not.

Plus it pays!

My wife will be so pleased.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

TNT Winter '07 Recap

Final practice today for Team in Training, San Gabriel Valley, Greater Los Angeles, 2006/07. A handful of Phoenix veterans including Cesar, Dan Fastrup, Megan, Shannon and Tom modeled marathon and half-marathon medals for the Spring Team. Spring was about to embark on a chilly, eighteen-mile training run. We, on the other hand, took a leisurely "victory" walk around the Rose Bowl with coaches Katie, Kate and Mel.

I thought of my marathon and how I breezed through the first 15 miles. Then I fought sundry pains for the next five. Coach Kate met me at mile 20. We ran in from there, dropping walk breaks because they were too uncomfortable. We finished hard, passing most runners in the last 1.2 miles. I wobbled across the timing mat, woozy because all spare blood had drained to my legs. Kate held me up. I had knocked one hour and 40 minutes off my previous marathon time.

Sure, I'd run a strong marathon, but I was ready. I had trained hard since my cast came off in May. At first I aqua ran and worked out in the gym. In July I could run again, though not very well. Throughout the late summer and fall, I built myself up, adding hills and track and weekly tempo runs. I lifted weights and my injured leg was stronger than ever. The coaches gave me extra homework like "ladders" and interval runs. In the last week, I added mental workouts, visualizing myself overcoming obstacles during the race. Plus I had the benefit of having completed a marathon.

Furthermore I was unemployed, thus fat with time to train.

Still, my teammates' marathons were more inspiring.

They didn't have my preparation. The majority were tackling an endurance event for the first time. Many of them carried nagging injuries and all the doubt and uncertainty that brings. Megan, for example, had been hurt all season and hadn't run beyond 16 miles. The day before the marathon she was thinking of quitting after half. But on race day Megan pushed herself and commited to 26.2 miles. Dan and Mary, also dogged by injuries, ran with her. They brought each other through.

Then there was Dan Fastrup, marathon veteran, who'd just lost his wife to lymphoma in November. He gave up his own marathon time to stay with two teammates and see them safely across the finish line.

The same thing happened in Hawaii, where speedy Ryan Lim held himself back and ran/walked injured teammate Matt to the completion of his first marathon.

In the end, we all finished what we started.

A lot of heart, this Winter Team.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Frigid Start for Phoenix Marathon

Big darn anchor.

Predawn in downtown Phoenix; twenty-nine degrees. The marathon began from Wesley Bolin Plaza. In the plaza's center rested the anchor from the battleship Arizona. Runners huddled near this cold metal object, shivering in their trash bags.

I wasn't one.

I was shivering over by the UPS gear-check trucks. They would haul everyone's stuff to the finish line near Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium. Along with TNTers Cesar and Angie, we killed time talking about how stinking cold it was.

The previous afternoon, Coach Katie had presented me with two pace charts. One was for 4 hours and 30 minutes on the nose. The other was a bit more ambitious: 4 hours and 24 minutes. I was shooting for the latter time.

As the sun rose, seven thousand runners reluctantly said 'good-bye' to their warm clothes and lined up for the race. The mayor of Phoenix delivered a cheery message that came out garbled over the loudspeakers. I don't know what he said. He could've still been drunk from a fundraiser and admitted to shooting his wife. But everyone cheered anyway. It warmed the lungs.

A few women sang our national anthem a capella and off we ran. I was excited. I'd been waiting 13 months for this marathon and still couldn't believe it had just started. Rather than marvel over the obvious, I urged myself to take the first mile slow.

The day would soon warm up.

I hoped.

(Photo by Meghan Kroneman)

Nailed the Phoenix Marathon

Beyond expectations. A morose freezing start; a long chilly run; some welcome help at mile 20; and the last 6.2 miles at a hard, blood-draining pace. All that and more made this a marathon to remember.

I shattered my goal of four and a half hours to wobble across the finish line in 4 hours, 21 minutes and 45 seconds.

Thank you Jeff, K, and everyone else for your support and encouragement.

I'm still visiting family and friends in Phoenix as well as nursing sore hip flexors.

Many great stories to tell.

I'll get posting tomorrow evening.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

. . . Gone! Phoenix Marathon a Wrap

Another Ribbon

Dale came out to California to be a rock star. He never got famous but he did get work. Dale played guitar in different bands and made a nice living as a promoter. He would book musicians such as the last living member of Canned Heat or Ike Turner for venues down in Long Beach. I've known him 13 years and he only has two speeds: fast and extremely fast.

I just got back from the hospital. Dale had a tumor removed from his colon this week. The pathology report stated that some of the tumor jumped to a nearby lymph node. He's diagnosed as Stage 4 - not good. However the doctors feel the cancer is isolated enough to respond to treatment. Dale faces six months of chemo.

When he's back home, I'll let Dale know about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He already knows I run for "some cancer thing." Now he'll find out how the money I raise with Team in Training helps support victims and their families. I'll also be adding Dale's name to a ribbon I'm wearing this Sunday. He'll be in good company next to Melanie Fastrup.

And I'll be running more than a marathon. I'll be running in honor of one survivor who lost her fight with cancer and in support of another survivor who is just beginning.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ready for Phoenix Marathon Plus TV Animation Work

Ready . . . set . . . . Ran my last training miles today: an EZ four. Very difficult to go slow, but I tried keeping my pace down to match the first 10 to 13 miles of the marathon.

Work has chosen this moment to pick up. (Any time work picks up is a good time.) I have a meeting next Friday that should bring in a little development money. And if the idea I develop gets bought, then I'll have a fine show to work on as producer or story editor.

Also I'm brushing up an old animated series concept for a pitch to Disney.

As a result, I'll have to bring my laptop to Phoenix.

But work will take my mind off the race.

Then give me something to look forward to when it's over and the depression sets in.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Thoughts on Upcoming Second Marathon

That's that again. Last TNT practice today. We ran eight miles that felt short and easy. All has been said and done. There's nothing left but the race next Sunday. I'm excited, scared, impatient; giddy in a manly way.

Training serves as the ante. The marathon is the game. The rules are fluid. It could be nothing you imagined or exactly as planned. There are so many imponderables, not least being mental outlook. That's where I faltered last year. Yes, the humidity in Hawaii zapped me and I wobbled to a stop. But I wasn't prepared to deal with adversity. My training had gone smooth and injury free. Too smooth. Mr. Trouble had never come around.

Out there on the sun-washed asphalt of Honolulu, as runners streamed past, I stopped checking my watch. I shuffled along, no longer caring when I finished — until I finished. Then I knew I could've watered up, pushed myself and run a bit more. Quitting still eats at me like a chubby tape worm.

All I can do is run my best marathon, The results will take care of themselves.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Last Track Session Before Phoenix.

Last night was our final track practice. Very light workout. Jerry and I were the first to arrive. As we warmed up, Jerry gave me his marathon anti-cramp recommendations: bring plenty of salt tablets and vary the pace.

Then off to the Soup Plantation for soups and such. Teammate Jennifer, who ran Honolulu, showed up with a cake. I forget the occasion, but she baked it herself and it was pretty darn good.

I'm concentrating now on mental training. I visualize running smoothly with good form. Using more T'ai Chi and yoga breathing exercises helps keep me centered.

Oh, and trying to earn some money this year. That's also a good thing to focus on.