Sunday, January 23, 2011

Louis - 'A' race #2: Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Report

This is my 4th time finishing this race yet this is the worst I ever feel. This is not my slowest half marathon, but definitely one of the toughest (given how I feel). Everything is good leading to the race. I feel a little nervous going to the race because I want to reach my goal. But it's the good nervous, I feel good about beating my PR and I know I know I am capable to do so.

This year I am running in honor of Jodi and Gilbert. And as always, this race is dedicated to Renee and George

the pre 'feel like shit' picture for both of us - Louis and Emil

Weather forecast said the race will be in the 60th. Turned out everyone was getting toasted at mid to even high 70s. I think I got overheated (alone with a few issues) and reduced to this... beat up thing. The regular Louis will definitely call it a day and start walking. Why kill myself if I don't feel well? But I (the 'A' game Louis) told myself I need to give it all I got for every race. I know I won't PR, but I am going to give it all I got. To me it's the effort that counts.

It took an eternity, but I am at the mile 12. At this race, I mad dash from mile 12 to the finish every single time (yes, even for my 2nd half marathon (Carlsbad is my second half marathon ever) back in 2008). I tried and I couldn't pick up my speed. (I guess this is how I confirm to myself that I do... in fact... feel like shit). I ran as fast as I can, and cross the finish line at around 2:07:42. Not fast by IronteamLouis standard, but definitely an A effort.

It turned out many people have similar issues so it's definitely not a PR weather. But that's not an excuse. I will PR next year even if the ground is on fire. I learned a few things at this year's race and I am ready to move on. A Race #3 in March. Desert International Triathlon. See you then.

Medal for Jodi along with a cute Carlsbad Marathon Shirt. Fight on Jodi and Gilbert

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Louis - 'A' race #2: Carlsbad Half Marathon Pre Game Report

So... I have been getting a little antsy about the Carlsbad Half Marathon this Sunday. Even a little stress. I am stressing not because I am worry about finishing a half marathon but because I want to meet a certain time goal. Not only do I want to PR this Sunday, I actually want to go under a certain time, a time that I set for myself. It's funny this race is actually more important than my other bigger races this year. Maybe it's because this is my 4th time running it? Maybe it's because I am running this race in memory of Renee Benson and George Morrison? Or beat someone's time? I think it's a little bit from each.

I sent my race plan early week to teamsquareone and Coach Paul made minor adjustment to it. I think it's a good solid plan to reach my goal. Unlike Boney Mountain Trail Race where I do have places where I need to walk (thus taking a break). This one will almost be all run. I think Boney Mountain is more of a physical challenge because I put a great deal of stress (from all the uphill and downhill) to my body. This one is going to be mental because I am going to run at a very good pace and I cannot 'lag' if I were to hit my goal. My heart and lung will hate me this Sunday.

Regardless of what I end up doing on Sunday, I know I am going all out. And that I need to control my pace and not to run too fast early on.

I ran tue night to find my race pace/racing heart rate, and the number looks good.

2008: 2:25:50 Pace 11:08
2009: 2:09:15 Pace: 9:52
2010: 1:58:25 Pace 9:02 (6.6 mi at 59.48 Pace 9:04)
2011: ? Pace ?

So I picked a song for this race to give you a virtual representation of how I am going to run on Sunday.

Asian Kung Fu Generation - After Dark

I am going to control my speed in the beginnging (wrap my wing and keep myself in the cage)
then... be patient... don't spread my wing...
until... the right moment (in this case mile 6.6)...
then... I am going to run as fast as I can... like that dude in the music video!!!

2 days more!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Back To Basic - Kevin

AT-AT Walker on the ground from knee pain.

Being sidelined is no fun. Moreover, it can be frustrating. My left knee has been bothering me throughout last week and my coach, who I very much idolized, pulled the plug for me at mile 2.55. It was a beautiful day out at Palos Verdes where we were training on Sunday. The roads there were rolling and hilly as they were compensated by clear views of Catalina Island and sea side parks with green green grass and gorgeous cliffs. I was indeed jealous of others who were able to put down 15 to 20 miles on such beautiful day, but this is for the better. Had my coach not pulled the plug for me, I may have been on my way to develop a chronic problem while being stubborn and trying to run right below the threshold of pain.

Afterall, maybe I had abused my privilege throughout the previous weekend until last week (And I'll be honest here).

DateMilesElev. Gain (ft)Note
01/07l0.53035Mt. Wilson - Hike Run
01/08173500Course Marked 6k + 21k
01/09173500Preview run 6k and then did 21k course
01/103.2800run out my soreness
01/116.5200Speed work - felt pain before warm up
Total til pain54.711035

On 01/11, I pushed pretty hard, but I felt great after the initial warm up. I was able to do four miles on the average of sub 7 minutes, which was the fastest I've ever ran. That said, it didn't mean that I pushed through my limit and capability. It was more like I hadn't try pushing that hard before and dig in that deep. I didn't think that was the cause of my knee problem. The knee problem was most likely to be caused by lack of rest. After that weekend, my calves were sore for days, yet I continued to run and on top of which, probably a big no no, I played basketball on MWF and soccer on TTH in addition to P90X cross training. Now, I'm paying for it.

Since that Tuesday, I have ran:

01/137.51000Thursday morning - + some pain
01/157.51000Turned a 15 mi run into a 2hr 7.5 mile hike
01/162.55200Speed work - felt pain before warm up
Total17.552200All with pinch

Since the 2.55 mi run on Sunday, I haven't done much but ice, foam roll and rest. I did do cross training on P90X (week 5 of the 90 cycle; Chest Shoulder and Tri) just to keep myself sane from not running much and not playing sports. I even went to Top To Top yesterday and bought myself a pair of Asics Foundation 9, a pair which has less support than Brooks Beast and a pair which I've had before Brooks Beast (my size 13 is heavy but very supportive). Besides that, I'm also interested on the Brooks Green Silence in which I've heard plenty of great things on. But Top to Top didn't carry them yet so Lawrence, the sales person which sold me my previous shoe and my latest addition had me try on a pair of Saucony Fasttwitch 4. It was amazingly light and too bad Running Warehouse doesn't carry size 13 while they're on sale!!! It's good to have several pairs to run with and each with various amount of support, working my way to run with less pronation and more efficient.

I've also been eying on the New Balance Minimus. Here is Anton talking about them.

All in all, the problem may have led by various causes. It could've been the waayy over worn Brooks Beast that I've had for over a year and many miles (Bulldog, Firetrails and many practices and even practices for North Face 50). It could've been the fact that I hadn't been resting much.

Besides that fact that it's frustrating not to be able to run, it's also scary. I want to be able to run States with a healthy body and give it the best shot. When you face an injury, the most important race gets flashed right in front of you, warning you to be careful and be smart about it. One lesson I'm learning here is that I need to listen to my body. Know when to push, know when to stop.

Haven't been able to run, I've been reading many blogs and watching a few videos to amp up my hunger for my next training run (when I'm ready). Enjoy a few of my recommendations.

Blogs I've been reading for inspiration:

June Caseria - My 2011 Western States (We're the only two SoCal Coyotes that got selected) partner in crime. SoCal Xterra Female Age Group Champ.

Dominic Grossman - One of the fastest (Top 10 at AC100 & 11th at Badwater) SoCal Coyotes (Running group I train and run with here in SoCal)

Katie DeSplinter - Another bad ass Coyote

Here is Katie and Dominic

Josh Spector - Current Part Coyote Coach - 8th overall at AC100 - Ironman (So much to learn from him!)

Then there are the professionals:

Anton Krupicka - One of the fastest ultra runners in the country, Leadville 100 champ, Miwok 100k champ and 2nd overall at Western States 100.

Geoff Roes - 2010 Ultrarunner of the year. Western States 100 Champ (set course record)

Scott Jurek - 2 Time Badwater Champ and 7 time Western States champ.

Cool Salomon Shoe Video!

Happy running. If you're in the cold, stay warm. See you out on the trails... soon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Louis – ‘A’ Race #1: Boney Mountain Trail Race

Most people define ‘A’ race as their focus race. They want to break their own person record or reach their goal. But mine is a little different. My definition of ‘A’ race is to race with all out effort, race with focus, and race smart. Basically… racing with my heart. Doesn’t always mean a new PR (Personal Best) for me, I just want to give it my best and have no regret. Gosh I think I just sound like William Hung.

Course and Pre-Race
Boney Mountain Trail Race is a 13 miles trail race in Newbury Park with 2600-2800 feet of climbing. To give you a perspective of how much people climb during this race, look at the US Bank Tower in downtown LA, and multiple that by 2.5.

Before this race I actually did this course twice just to scout. I ran once in 2010 (~3hr48min), and one last week (Jan 2, 2011 - 3hr20min). Doing the course really help me with race planning. With 12 minutes of stopping time last week (thanks to my Garmin Watch). I figure my time will be around 3:05 to 3:10.

Race Day - Jan 9, 2011
I went to pick up my packet with my friend Alison, saw Coach Scott from Team In Training East Side Tri Team and Tim from the West Side Tri Team. I then bumped into my teammate Abigail from the Warner Brother Triathlon Team, the other VitaPanda Kevin, Bad ass #1 Jimmy Freeman, his wife Kate Freeman, bad ass ultra runner Erin C, and the Boston Marathon guy from last week. It’s funny how you bump into people in races.

Coach Scott and course map

Abigail from WB Tri Team

I did my warm up, listened to the pre-race talk from Coach Jimmy, took a few pictures, and took off from the start line. I broke down the race into different sections so it’s easier for me to describe what’s going on and to get rid of my writer block… again.

Jimmy Freeman giving pre-race talk

VitaPanda Kevin looking over racers. Gosh he looks like a bouncer.. or a hawk

Section 1 (0 – 2 mi) The A+ effort
- narrow fireroad - flat
- paved road, slight incline
- paved road steep downhill
- single track, stream crossing, rolling hill.

I know going fast on the flat and downhill are keys to finish this race in a good time, so I dashed out on the fireroad right after the gun started. Since 300x of us are running in this narrow access road, none of us can really go fast. I did however, fought my position and kept it. As soon as we ht the paved road, the road gotten wider and the crowd started to thin out. I pushed my way thru knowing I can recover on the downhill. I kept the downhill easy so I don’t trash my leg for the rest of the race. As soon as I finished the downhill I enter the single track. There were people right in front of me and behind me. I felt like sliding down one of those twisty raging water pipe things with a bunch of people. I kept a good pace because I didn’t want the person behind me to bump into me. Next thing I knew I was force to stop because there of a stream crossing traffic jam. Apparently I know how to cross these streams much better than folks around me. So on the second stream crossing, I used my mad stream crossing skill to cut cross the stream, and passed at least 10 people. The fun disappeared around mile 2 when the side of my rib cage hurts… a sign of going too hard.

Section 2 (Mile 2 – Mile 6): Recovery
Rolling Hill
Steepest Climb
Flat on the mountain top
High Speed Trail Descend
One mile of gradual downhill on dirt access road

By now I was in trouble. My heart rate was skyrocket, I was breathing heavy, and about all, I was running slow! I needed to get out of this mess and start moving fast again. I knew the flat is coming up. I knew I want to run it and not walk it like an overheat car. So I slowed down my pace to recover. At times I needed to stop and catch my breath on the steep uphill, at time I needed to stop even at the small runnable flat. But over all I knew my condition was improving. After like 10 minutes or so the pain went away, I was able to catch my breath, and got back into my groove before I enter the flat area.

I ran the flat and entered the steep descend. I ran fast and passed a few people. What I noticed is that I was pounding the ground so hard my eyeballs was like bounding around. It’s like every time I pound on the ground my vision will not be as clear (because of the impact). It took a lot focus to read the road ahead and it was kind of interesting. Maybe my body wants me to slow down! LOL

By now I also learned that drinking liquid from your backpack is very hard when you are racing. I realized that I can’t really drink from the pack while running at the same time because I was breathing rapidly. I would suck the liquid, took barely a sip, and ran out of breath! Luckily I carried a handheld so I was able to drink from it as well! At this time pretty much everyone around me ran at my pace. I just can’t seem to catch the person in front of me. This went on for a few minutes then I heard footsteps coming from behind… fast. No one should run this fast behind me. Then I realized it’s VitaPanda Kevin. He checked on me and I told him was having fun. We chatted for a bit and he took off. Then… he passed all these people in front of me effortlessly… crazy Panda.

Section 3 (mile 6 to mile 10): Stay Focus
Bottom of the canyon, relatively flat
First uphill
Quick descent
Second big uphill

By now I got to the aid station at mile 6. I figured I should go to the porta potty now because there won’t be one until the end. I went to the handicap one and bumped my head on the way out. I think the designer make the entrance shorter so regular people will bump their head if they were to use it!

Knowing this is the last flat I have for a long time; I stayed focus and ran as fast as I can. I passed a person holding a stick as support and I thought to myself, good job for holding this heavy stick and weight you down! After 10 minutes, I got to the start of the climb. Basically I hiked the uphill that’s too steep and jog at places where it wasn’t too steep for me. Half way thru the first uphill Kevin caught up to me (Well I think it’s more like he just had a hamburger and he needed a nice, easy run). It’s now 1hr40mins into the race and I took my second salt tablet pill. Kevin was behind me for probably another ¾ of a mile and then took off after he realized one of the mile marker is off (he was doing course marking the day before). By then I was running behind this two women. I knew they are more experience and faster than me on the uphill so I decided to use them as pacer. I would hike when they hike, run when they run. They would pull away from me every now and then but I managed to get back to their tails by running longer. It worked. I got to the top around 2hr10min

One of the few picture I took during the race. This is when I am going up the mountain. I eventually passed the woman in front of me at the downhill

Section 4 (mile 10- mile 13): Louis the mountain lion
Super Long Downhill: steep down hill, flat, steep down hill
The 6 minutes uphill
The last downhill
The flat
The finish line
Now the fun part began. 18 minutes of downhill that required 100% of my attention. As soon as I started going down hill I passed the two women in front of me. I kept up with my pace and passed another 2 guys, the two more. I was making good speed! But… when I go to the flat area in the middle of the downhill, I realized once again that I was running too fast and I needed to slow down and catch my breath. The last two guys that I passed? They passed me. I started talking to one of the guy and he told me he was having this hip cramp issue, we chatted until the downhill start, I took off again, passed another 3 people before I made it to the bottom. Right then I caught up this girl who took off at mile 6! I guess I made good use of that downhill.

By now I passed mile 12 with a time of 2hr 33 min. Holly crap I can finish the race in under 3 hours! I did a little victory dance in my head but I knew I still have this 6 minutes uphill that I needed to conquer. I called it 6 minutes uphill because it took me 6 minutes last week to climb. I knew I only need to suck it up for 6 more minutes before running in home stretch. By then my left calf act up and I can totally feel it, but it doesn’t really matter, I am going to push it. So like after I minute later I saw the Boston Marathon guy not too far away. Yes was far, but I knew I have a chance to catch him. I decided to go for it and pass him. I had this picture of a mountain lion trying to take down a big horn sheep. I sneak up on him and I gotten very close to pass him before the uphill. Well I missed it. So I ran for the second kill… on the down hill. I knew once he got to the flat he will be golden so I need to use my advantage… foot hill and my big leg muscle (I am guessing I can absorb more impact with my big legs so I can go at a faster speed than him). I know after the downhill I won’t be able to catch him… he doesn’t wear that Boston Marathon jacket for nothing! I got a bit closer, closer, and when he slowed down at this loose path, I went for the kill… No I did not knock him over and try to break his neck! I passed him.

Then second I passed him, I ran as fast as I can. As if I just knock over a police officer’s donut and coffee (Officer Morrison to be precise) on purpose and try to run away from him. And wow… I was able to hold him off for a while… until my left calf started to cramp. But instead of slowing down, I actually speed up with smaller steps and try to shake it off. But I can’t… so he over took me on the access path right before we make this right turn back to the paved road. I took down the prey, but the sheep got away. By now I reduced to this limping thing… which didn’t do me any good. I stopped; put pressure around my leg… and did not help. I decided to just kind of limp run my way in. When I got close to the finish line, I saw Kate, Jimmy, Erin C, and Kevin all cheering for me. I sucked it up and finish the course. 2hr and 51 minutes. A whole 15 minutes faster than what I expected! An hour faster than what I did last year (but last year I was on my own and didn’t know where I was going)

After the Race
My plan was to get warm, drink my recovery drink, then watch people finish. I know Alison won’t come in til at least 3:10 so I figured I have 20 minutes to do my thing. Right after I mixed my drink few minutes after I finished, Alison was standing in front of me smiling… I was speechless. She never run the course, biked 4 hours up the canyon the day before, and managed to finish only 9 minutes after me? But then again she is Alison, I shouldn’t be surprised. I stop guessing what she is capable a while in ago. I took pictures with the gang, ate lunch, and went home.

Jimmy wants me to show the Coyotes logo. Chill Jimmy! I will do it.

See, I love Coyotes (VitaPanda Louis and VitaPanda Kevin)

Alison, training partner in crime

I play smart, give it all I have, and I am happy with my result. This is the first time I used my trail running pack in a race and I learned a lot with my equipments. That it’s impossible to drink of the bladder if you are breathing heavily! That the new bottle that I have leaks! What the heck right… and a few other things. I tried a few things and they worked and a few things that didn’t. I gain valuable lessons about running on trail and I am sure I can apply my knowledge in my up coming races. I can’t wait to do my ‘A’ race #2.

Thanks to Coach Jimmy for the preview and race day support (check out his running group Coyotes running). Thanks to Coach Paul from Team Square One for some tough love training. Lastly I would like to thanks Kevin the other VitaPanda, who paced with me for a while. I also would like to give a shout out to my first time TNT marathon teammate Emily Shanker. We ran the Los Angeles Marathon back in March 2008 and she is going to run the Rock N roll Arizona Marathon as her second marathon this week! I am excited for her! Go Emily!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Boney Mountain Trail Race Preview

With one week to go before Boney Mountain Trail Race, I decide to run the course today with SCAL Coyotes. With 40% chance of rain on race day, I want to scout the course to see flood damage and to gain experience running in mud.

Unlike going to a Halloween party, I always dress for the occasion when I go trail running, especially running in cold and rain. Even though I am running with a group, I pack as if I am doing a solo run because the chance of getting hypothermia is very high. Exit point is far from my car so I need to play it safe. I have three layers on top and one short - TNT tri top, Coyotes Running Shirt, Arm Warmer, and my Arcteryx jacket. I also carried two pair of gloves (one light weight one heavy), a beanie, headlamp, small first aid kit, drink, food, a chemical heat pack, and a headlamp. I know my Arcteryx is too heavy to run with, but I want the protection from the element.

What? Flour? Is this what ultra marathoner drinks? ok fine I'll drink it too. Kate: No that's gross. This is for Jimmy's Course Marking.

I got there around 8:45am and started to prepare. After Coach Jimmy gave a pre-run talk we started running. Right after we started the run people just thin off rapidly. People then broke into groups on the big downhill 0.75 mi into the run. I kept my pace because I knew all of them are trail runners and matching their pace is just plain stupid. After the downhill on paved road we entered the muddy single track. I ended up catching a few people who were not as comfortable running on mud and crossing stream as me. I even passed a runner who was wearing the Boston Marathon jacket. Did I just pass someone who qualified and finished the Boston Marathon???

I got a bit warm too warm at mile 2.9 so I took off my arm warmer and Coyotes shirt. I put my warmer and glove in my Arcteryx jacket for easy access while stuffing my Coyotes shirt in my tri top. You got to love the stretchy TNT tri top. The Boston Marathon guy passed me while I was taking my stuff off. I closed in on the Boston Marathon guy and we talked for a bit. Again I stopped at mile 4 for blister treatment. Kate Freeman (as a sweeper today) caught up to me and waited for me to finish my first aid (Thank You very much Kate). Since I took off my gloves I was having a difficulty putting the patch on because it was freezing cold. After a few minutes I was on my way again, then I realized my hand and arm was very cold. Not good! I increased my pace and swing my arm wildly to get some blood flow into my arm… which worked. It also helped when my jacket protect me from the element. I caught up to the women that were with Kate and continue my way. They were doing the 8 miles route.

By now I gotten used to the mud. Balling wasn't a big issue during the run (balling is a condition where packed snow "balling up" onto the sole of your crampon which make you lose traction... I thought similar condition can happen when I step on mud).

Single Track

After a mile of gradual downhill at 1hr 45 min, I am now going up the mountain. My goal is to catch the Boston Marathon guy and to move as fast as I can so I delay Kate catching up to me. Not that I don’t want her to catch up to me, but I know she is probably cold and she will only get colder if she run at my pace (too slow for her)

a mile before going up Boney Mountain

Another half an hour later I got to the saddle. By now the wind really picked up but my body temperature is still ok thanks for my layering (my setup is good for a snow climb up to Baldy!... as long as I don't stop!). From the saddle, the course went downhill for a while only to go back up hill again =( After another half an hour I got to the top. Now comes the super long downhill which took me 18 minutes. Then the 7 minutes on the last uphill. I timed each section so that I know the time to beat next week. It also tell me how much to push for next week’s race. Say 7 minutes on the last hill, I know I can suffer for 7 minutes and run more hills. As I was running the last section, I saw someone that is of catchable distance. I speed up and almost caught up to him when he was only 30 ft in front of me. I finished the run in 3hr 20 min with ~2800ft of gain. 10 minutes before the cut off! If I didn’t stop to put away my layers and apply blister patch, I can do 3hr 15 min.

Overall I am very happy with my time. I didn't go all out and still make it under the 3 1/2 hr cut off. And guess what, the Boston Marathon guy only did the short loop (that's why I never caught him). So yes, IronteamLouis beat someone that ran the Boston Marathon Ha Ha Ha!

I am ready, so does the other VitaPanda

VitaPanda after party

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lesson learned in 2010 - Keep Moving Forward

Gally: She got shot and still look forward. ok fine she is an android, but still.

Seriously, I have been having this writer's block it's not even funny anymore. While I can't write down what happened in 2010, I did learn a lot from it (thus this blog... *_*). I learned that only you can dig yourself out of your a hole and no one else can help you. I learned that we always have to keep moving forward and sometime we need to let things go. I learned that the moment you stop questioning why it's the moment you start moving forward.

In other news, I am happy that my friend John and Melissa has a cute baby girl Lily. I am happy that people around me started to run marathons and triathlons. A few even signed up for an Ironman. I am happy that the other VitaPanda Kevin Chan reached all his goals in 2010. I am very happy to win Sully in Tokyo. I value something that you cannot buy. (so random right)!

Sully and I at Tokyo Marathon Expo 2010

I may write about 2010 some days. But you know what, the stuff I learned will show up in 2011... a better Ironteam Louis. Look forward to it.

Below is a list of people that I know before they did something totally new. Damn that's a lot of you!!! If I miss you, I am sorry!!!

P.S. Picture may not be taken in the actual event.

VitaPanda Kevin Chan - Firetrail 50 mi ultra Marathon. North Face 50 mi ultra Marathon

Kim Tull - Vineman Full Ironman

Michelle Wong - Nike Women's Marathon

Marisela Echeverria - SD Triathlon

Jennifer Young - Malibu Triathlon

Patty Talamantes and Waymond Fong - Malibu Triathon

Stephen Soong - Ironman Arizona

Lindsey Winger - Nike Women's Marathon

Lisa Brin - Nike Women's Marathon

Julie Hung - SD Triathlon

Lily Wu -SD Triathlon

Kelli Huynh and Tam Huynh - Los Angeles Marathon

Wendy Mann, Robert Mann, Waymond Fong - Los Angeles Marathon