Camarillo Duathlon Race Report 2014

Jesse Luna - Camarillo Duathlon

I did the Camarillo Duathlon race yesterday and things went well, especially considering a year ago I was 40 pounds heavier and started this new fitness journey after being diagnosed with diabetes. This was the third and last of the year’s Camarillo Duathlon Series 2014.

Unlike the first time I did the Duathlon Series last October, I trained for this one. After the October duathlon I started running regularly, 3 to 4 times a week, and cycled during cross-training days. Although, when I decided to run the December Santa to the Sea Half Marathon, I shifted all my training efforts to running and cycling fell by the wayside.

The field at this past weekend’s duathlon was much larger than the one in the Fall. The Race Director, Bill Escobar, said that they had done a Living Social deal and seventy people showed up on race day via the deal. Because the Living Social deal didn’t send any runner info to race organizers everyone had to register in the morning and there was a nice sized line to register and people were racking up their bikes with minutes to spare before the races began. I liked seeing more faces and probably new racers but Escobar wasn’t very fond of the logistical bottleneck that happened so probably won’t do the Living Social deal again. I picked up my race gear the day before so the lines didn’t bother me at all.

Here’s a quick video of the transition area right before the start of the Olympic race.

With the nice and full field, the Olympic race started at 8 a.m. and our Sprint race would start 20 minutes later. I remember during the October race that I didn’t warm up with a run because I felt that if I did a tiny run it would use up all my running strength. A mile and a half run was like a marathon to me back then.

As we made our way to the starting line I winded my way towards the front of the pack then we were off. My plan was to run hard the entire mile and a half and did just that, running my fastest mile split since junior high. It felt good being in the middle of the pack and being able to run strong the whole way. Because there were a few more bikes than last year’s race my transition time was a tad slower but still ranked 18th out of 81. I used the same hybrid bike as last time so didn’t have to worry about changing shoes.

My main goal for the cycling portion was to cycle at under a 4 minutes per mile pace for as much of the race as possible. The October race was hot and the day before there were brutal headwinds that calmed down only a little on race day and some of my mile splits were over 7 minute miles.

I grabbed a couple of bites of a Cliff bar around mile 4 and that’s exactly when the race photographer took my photo. Every time I went to drink water or take a bit of the Cliff bar I slowed down a bunch. I haven’t used little Gu packet as my nutrition before but I think I need to try it out because of its smart and easy to use packaging. I finally tried one the other day and it didn’t unsettle my stomach.

By mile 6 I had been passed by a lot of people including folks who were also on hybrid bikes so I can’t use that as an excuse. It was a little frustrating but I just didn’t have it in my legs to go any faster. That said, I still improved my cycling time by more than 8 minutes which is really good considering I had focused 99% of my training at the running portion. I wondered how much improvement I’d see in cycling just by the improved conditioning via running.

I finished the cycling portion strong and started the final run portion in good shape. My legs were a little heavy but I didn’t get the crazy rubber legs that I did in October. I kept a steady pace and got passed by a couple of people but I just kept on with the steady pace. I checked my Nike Sportswatch pace and it said I was at a 9:45 mile pace.

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t actively push to reel in runners. I did pass one person with about 400 yards left in the race and surged a bit at the end but didn’t get the adrenaline kick that would have put me in super race mode. I still beat my final run portion from October by almost 4 minutes.

I also used my heart monitor during the race and I’ve been reviewing the data to see where I was really pushing it and where I was apparently cruising. I’ll keep all this in mind as I continue training for my next race, the Ojai Half Marathon on April 27. Elite Sports, who put on the Camarillo Duathlon, is also managing this race and so far it has over 800 registrants.

You can review the race results for the Camarillo Duathlon race here.

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How to Add Mile Splits in a Spreadsheet

I’m preparing for the Ojai Half Marathon on April 27 and it’s a hilly course so I’m setting up target mile splits for race day. When I ran my first half marathon this past December it was a very flat course and my main goal was just to finish while keeping an eye on my heart rate. My mile pace for that race was “slow and steady.”

For the Ojai Half Marathon there are several grades that are steep enough to slow down my pace significantly and I want to plan for that in my total time. After surveying the course and taking a training run on part of it I determined that the course’s elevation profile can help me figure out target mile splits.

Here’s the course and elevation profile for the Ojai Half Marathon.

Ojai Half Marathon elevation profile

But once you set up your goal mile splits, you’re going to want to figure out your total time and that’s where I ran into a problem. I’m fairly proficient with Excel but I fumbled around for a good 20 minutes before I started Googling easier ways to accomplish the task without adding times manually.

The solution was Google Drive spreadsheets. To add up mile splits in a spreadsheet:

1) Open up a new Google Drive spreadsheet.

2) Enter in your mile splits in the hh:mm:ss format such as 0:10:30 (0 hours, 10 minutes, thirty seconds), then enter the next time split below that one.

3) Select all the times and then click on the “More Formats” button in the menu (the “123″ button) and select “Duration.”

This is what that looks like.

formatting time splits as duration

4) Now you can select those same spreadsheet cells again and click on the Sum formula (the Sigma shape) button and it will display your time in a nice hh:mm:ss format.

Sum function

This is what your properly formatted column of time splits with total time will look like.

formatted mile splits with total

Now you have your splits and you can use this for training and for your race. Now you can write the mile splits on your arm, tape them to a water bottle or even send away for temporary tattoos with the time splits on them, like from

Hope this helps and let me know if you use a different process to track your mile splits for long races. And remember, when in doubt, #GetFit.

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Rich Roll’s ‘Finding Ultra’ and Second Chances

It was September of last year and I had just met with my doctor. After a few months of exercise and completely shifting my diet, I had controlled my diabetes and had lost 30 pounds.

Finding Ultra

A couple of days later on a family vacation, we spotted a small bookstore and I came across a couple of books that looked interesting. I remember Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Body” mentioning ultra marathoner Rich Roll and his book “Finding Ultra” so I picked that up. Next to that book was “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall. I hadn’t read an entire book in years so I kept it real and only picked up the one book.

In “Finding Ultra” Rich Roll wrote about his transformation from a sluggish middle-aged man who struggled to climb the stairs in his home to an ultra marathoner, running double marathon distances as part of competitions.

It was very powerful to read about Roll’s addiction to drinking and how his recovery took time as he reflected on a path of destruction.

The book gave me hope that if I stuck to my healthy eating plan and kept exercising that I too could go on and participate in crazy fun adventures like triathlons and super long runs. At that point, the furthest I had run in 20 years was one mile.

My favorite parts of the book are:

* Roll’s description of how he bonked (runner’s speak for a point in a race where the runner’s mind is ready to continue but the body mutinies and can’t go on as planned, or stops) early on in a race then later got some sage advice and learned about Zone training. I’ve used the Zone training philosophy as a key part of building endurance and it helped me train for a half marathon and go on to do a difficult 19 mile trail run.

* Roll’s relationship with Jason Lester during the EPIC5 challenge where Lester and Roll took on doing 5 full Ironman courses on five different Hawaiian Islands in what turned out to be 7 days. When things got tough Lester would turn to Roll and say, “That’s why it’s called a challenge.” Whenever I’m doing a tough workout and am about to hit that point where I say “why the heck am I doing this when I could be chilling on the couch watching Miami Vice reruns on Netflix” I remember Lester’s line and gut it out to the finish, because that’s what this is about.

* By the end of the book I was convinced that I was missing a lot of nutrients by only sticking to my Slow Carb Diet plan. A big part of Rich Roll’s story is about how he uses plant power to help fuel his new energetic life. I’ve taken up juicing and blending great nutrient-rich concoctions that have helped me get through workouts and recover from them.

* Another takeaway from the book was the part where Roll decides to sign up for an Ironman race and his coach asks him, “which one?” That simple question is one that takes one from a mindset of “I want to” to “I’m going to.” There is a big difference between hoping and intending. When you sign up for a specific race then there is a big change that happens. Things become clearer and you can set your goals and study your race with intention.

By the end of the book I knew that I wanted to race in a triathlon. But given that my swimming skills are less than exemplary, I decided to sign up for a sprint duathlon where I would run 1.5 miles, bike 11.6 miles, then run another 1.5 miles. I signed up right away and couple of short weeks later with little preparation did the race and finished (that was my goal).

After reading “Finding Ultra” I have gone on to read over a dozen running books and will share more of the inspiration of each book here on future blog posts. If you enjoy “Finding Ultra” then you’ll love Rich Roll’s podcast, I do.

What is the latest book that you’ve read and that has inspired you to make a change in your life?

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Fever Strikes

Training run in Simi Valley - Rocky Peak

Four days before the big Bandit Ultra Trail Run race I was at work and felt body aches and had the chills. “Unf***ingbelievable!!!” was my reaction. I knew I was getting sick. It had been many months since I had as much as the sniffles.

On the Friday before the race I still had the body aches and intermittent chills and one of my co-workers, a former decathlete, said that I was probably having the pre-race jitters. I had already done the full 30K race course two weeks previous during one of the training runs put on by the race organizers so I wasn’t really nervous about finishing the race. I thought about the jitters comment more and figured there could be some truth to it in terms of increased stress since work had been a pressure-packed couple of weeks.

On Saturday, the day before the race, I still felt bad but drove out to Simi Valley to pick up the race bib and t-shirt. I even took a quick mile run in the morning to see if the body aches would be a deal breaker. The run went fine and I didn’t feel any increased pain. But by the evening I felt worse, took my temperature and it was over 101.4 degrees F. I took some time to think it through and knew that I could probably run through the fever the next morning but that it could turn a fever/body ache situation into a full-blown bug of some kind. Or, if I didn’t lace up I could take the long weekend and recover from this with proper rest. I ended up not running and watching parts of the race via the live stream feed, cheering on my friend Marcos Vargas and his son, Canek, who ran and finished the race.

Even though I had President’s Day off from work, I had to take off a couple of more days from work after going to the doctor and seeing that I still had a fever. The extra days off really helped and now I feel great. I did a couple of regular training runs and my legs are starting to get back into shape.

As you might imagine, I was very bummed not to run in the race after all the training I did in preparation. I had run the full course, did two other training runs there at Rocky Peak and did a lot of trail running at the nearby Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura to practice downhill running and hiking steep hills. I feel good about all the preparation that I did for the race and I will carry that forward to future races.

One thing that I noticed while I was sick was that running is one of those things that really helps me focus on positive things to help keep my spirits up. The initial struggle last year to lose weight and control my diabetes was made easier by focusing on good workouts and eventually on running. But while I was sick I didn’t want to think too much about running and I started getting depressed. Once I was up and running again I was able to continue reading the book I had started, Run or Die by Kilian Jornet, and to shift my mindset to more positive things.

Thank you to all who posted on my Facebook profile and offered great perspectives on running and staying healthy. That really did help lift my spirits. I feel very fortunate to have so much support and look forward to sharing my future fitness adventures.

Also, if you donated to the “Run Jesse Run” 30K Justice Sponsor campaign, please let me know and I will give you a shoutout during my next race. Once again, I appreciate your support.

Related Link:
> Bandit Ultra Trail Run

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Tackling the Bandit Ultra Trail Run

trail run training with Marcos and Canek- Bandit Ultra Trail Run
Trail run training with Marcos Vargas and Canek Pena-Vargas in Simi Valley

On February 16, 2014 I’ll be tackling the Bandit Ultra Trail Run 30K race in Simi Valley. This is a huge stretch for me. A year ago today I was about 35 pounds heavier and my idea of a workout was finishing up a package of cookies on the couch. A diabetes diagnosis helped turn me around and set me off on a fitness journey.

I was originally going to run the Seaside Half Marathon in February but when my friend and Executive Director of CAUSE, Marcos Vargas, said that he was going to do the 30K at Bandit, I knew I had to join him. I did the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon in December and this will be my first 30K race.

This will also be the first time I do fundraising and it’s for an organization I know very well. I have been volunteering for CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy) for the past several years. I’ve served on the Community Building Luncheon committee for the past few years, have precinct walked and helped support CAUSE in community organizing efforts including here in my hometown of Santa Paula. CAUSE’s mission is to build grassroots power to invoke social, economic and environmental justice for the people of California’s Central Coast region. In Santa Paula we fought to start a community garden and CAUSE and the community has just successfully won a new park in an under-served part of Ventura.

You can be a “Run Jesse Run” 30K Justice Sponsor by donating to the CAUSE effort to build a pipeline of passionate young organizers and the next generation of movement leaders. Building a pipeline of talented community organizers and leaders is super important as cities and communities struggle to provide environments that are socially, economically and environmentally just.

Please consider serving as one of my 30K trail run sponsors at the $10, $25, $50, or $100 level. Click here to show support as I tackle this large personal challenge and the challenge to improve our communities.

Your sponsorship is tax deductible.

Here’s a link to more information on the Bandit Ultra Trail Run.

This is a great article by CAUSE researcher/organizer Lucas Zucker on the need for activating young people to get involved.

Photo of me and another CAUSE volunteer, Adrian, doing some precinct walking in 2010 to support an important measure and tell my neighbors about the community garden idea.

precinct walking in Santa Paula for CAUSE

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#OAKLANDVOICES Reaches Out to FCC Chairman Wheeler at Town Hall

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at #OaklandVoices Town Hall in Oakland
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler made his first town hall appearance since being appointed to the role by President Obama some three months ago. Chairman Wheeler attended the Oakland Voices (hashtag “#OaklandVoices”) town hall in Oakland on Thursday, January 9 in front of 100 community activists and reporters. The standing-room-only event took place at Preservation Park in downtown Oakland and was organized by Voices for Internet Justice, a collaboration of almost 30 organizations including The Center for Media Justice, Free Press, ColorOfChange and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

The event was true to its billing, many voices with different issues spoke up to point out that people of color are often left out of the decision-making process, yet often disproportionately impacted by FCC decisions and practices.

Center for Media Justice Executive Director Malkia Cyril (@culturejedi on Twitter) set the tone by making sure it was clear that this was a community event, not an FCC event.

Several speakers spoke up in support of the Universal Lifeline program, a state and federal program that helps low-income families access phone services at a discounted rate. California Public Utilities Commissioner Catherine Sandoval pointed out that in California residents are required to provide the last four digits of their Social Security Numbers, creating a barrier to undocumented residents, even though “telcos” are happy to have them as regular subscribers, regardless of their documented status. Sandoval urged Commissioner Wheeler to remove the SSN requirement.

Another issue that came up was that of the ridiculously large telephone charges for calls from prisons. Christina Mansfield of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) pointed out that many detained immigrants are held without representation, and the additional high costs of making phone calls puts them that much further away from getting fair treatment in our prison and justice system.

Edyael Casaperalta from the Center for Rural Strategies spoke up during the community question period about broadband access in rural areas. As someone who lives in a rural area, I certainly agree that we have fewer broadband options than urban areas.

There was also a group of protesters who were there to speak out against the harms of wireless radiation. One protester wore a Grim Reaper costume and another wore a giant cellphone outfit while holding a “No Humor In a Brain Tumor” sign.

Cellphones cause tumors?

All in all, about 20 community members took to the microphone and voiced their concerns. Afterwards, Chairman Wheeler showed that he was paying attention by commenting on a couple of speakers and their issues.

In Wheeler’s final statements he didn’t reveal anything in terms of his position on the Open Internet or what he plans to do in the future in response to an upcoming U.S. Federal Court of Appeals decision in Verizon V. FCC.

I listened in on several conversations after the town hall let out and most were asking whether this really made an impact on Wheeler in regards to any future decisions. The way I look at it, Wheeler showed up to meet with active community members and that is a good start. Will he care? Community organizers across the nation will have to do their work and make him care.

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Just Ran the Santa To The Sea Half Marathon

Nine months ago I was 40 pounds heavier and if you would have told me that I’d run in and complete a half marathon before Christmas I would have said that you were crazy.

After 5 weeks of intense training, I ran in the Santa To The Sea Half Marathon race in Oxnard, California. When I found out that some friends were going to run the race I was very interested. I initially signed up for the 5K run but then chose to go for the half marathon.

The Santa To The Sea races have history here in the Ventura County area and the registration includes contributions to several charity groups in the area. We also dropped off a present for local kids. My wife helped me pick out the gift, a pink skateboard.

Race Day
The half marathon starts at a large Santa just south of Rice Ave in Oxnard, just off HWY 101. But first we had to park a couple of miles North where there was more parking at the new The Collection shopping center. As soon as I got to the parking lot I made a bee line for the nearby Starbucks to use the restroom. Unlike previous to training runs, I had a huge container of water before leaving home. I thought I might need the extra hydration but it ended up being more of a problem than it was worth, I think.

After pit stop #1 at Starbucks, I grabbed my sparkly skateboard gift and hopped on a shuttle to head over to the starting line. A few short minutes later we arrived and I had to hit the porta potty again. The actual finish line was about a quarter mile away so I made my way over and it was pretty packed. Over 2,000 would be in this race.

I dropped off the present and took some photos and shot video of the scene.

After running into a few people that I knew, I got in the 2:30 pace group and tried to get my Nike running app setup for the start. After fumbling around with the watch for a while it kept cutting out. I thought I got it going OK and started it a few seconds before the race started. Oh, and I had to pee again. Not good.

The race started down an unevenly paved road so I stayed in the middle of the road until we got to the Del Norte Ave bridge. As we ran over the bridge you could see the massive stream of runners out front as far as the eye could see. It was a beautiful site and several people stopped to take a quick photo. I didn’t want to mess with my running app so didn’t take a shot.

A few days before the race my wife, Belén, and I went out to drive the course so I was pretty familiar with all the mile marker areas but as the minutes passed by the running app didn’t call out the first mile. Then I hit the mile 2 marker and I knew my app hadn’t started correctly. This could have thrown me off completely since I’ve been relying on data to help with workouts and study my splits. I let go of the frustration and set out to just run my race.

I used my heart rate readings to help guide when I would slow to a brisk walk and when I would run. The plan was to run the first 8 miles just a bit faster than I did during training workouts then at mile 8 I’d take it up a gear. But, by mile 5 I really had to use the loo again and had to make another pit stop right next to Cesar Chavez school, around mile 6.

It was a comical scene. There were about 6 people waiting in line to use the bathroom and a great group of around 20 students were right next to the bathrooms playing mariachi music. Folks in line were shuffling from right to left, either to help “hold it,” to keep warm legs or a combination of the two – all to the beat of the playing music.

A song and a half was played before I got back to running. At this point I pretty much got rid of any hope of having a “really good time for a first time runner” race time. My original goal was just to finish but now it was very loosely to finish within 3 hours.

As I pulled away I noticed a woman who had also stopped to “check the tires” and she started to pull away. I kept to my pace and figured I’d catch up to her later since I had been hanging with her for the first half of the race.

Halfway Point
Just after mile 6 there was another bridge and this one is more of a climb, taking runners from the La Colonia part of town to downtown Oxnard. I walked a good chunk of the hill. The halfway point was at the top of the bridge and I was at 1:26 at that point. I was in good shape to come in under 3 hours even with the earlier pit stop.

Because I had to go to the restroom early on the race, I hadn’t been drinking any water, either from my water bottle or from the aid stations. By mile 7 I started sipping water again and when I got close to mile 8 I stated to feel as if my side was going to cramp up so instead of picking up the running pace I decreased the amount of time I was walking.

There’s a long stretch down Wooley Road that looked like it might be intimidating when we drove the course. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and just focused on my running form, the next steps and after a while I stated catching up to people who were in my running cluster before the pit stop. That felt pretty good but I noticed that some of those people were really having a tough time. Although I didn’t know what their stories were, I felt that those were “my people.” One couple that I recognized had the dude out front running then he’d slow way down to encourage his lady friend. They were cruising along fine in the beginning but they were one of the couples I caught up to and the lady friend was struggling.

Around mile 10 I passed a couple of very fit women who had been resting on the side of the road. Together, they were carrying a stretcher with a chair on it with a radio and a drawing of a big Santa. The thing probably weighed 25 pounds and they were carrying this thing the whole way. Pretty hardcore! I noticed they both had Ironman tattoos on their calves. This was a tough challenge but their spirits were up and they were still having fun.

By mile 11 I didn’t feel super strong so I kept at the same running pace and continued to keep the walking part short. I kept passing people up even those who were running at a steady pace. As I approached the one mile mark I recognized the woman who had taken off before me after the pit stop. I think I had seen her pull into another port o potty earlier. I tried to kick things into gear but feared that if I kicked too hard I’d trip or something so I kept at a steady pace.

As I was about 100 yards from the finish line I saw a dude who was limping badly and he had a smile on his face because he was going slow but knew that he was close to finishing. Just behind me I heard some women asking “how far along are you” and realized that the woman who had made the multiple potty stops was behind me and saw that she was about 2 months pregnant. That explained the multiple stops.

I finished in 2 hours and 48 minutes (chip time, 2:50 gun time) and still felt pretty good. I met two of my goals; I ran under 3 hours and ran a negative split, running the second half faster than the first half.

The next big question is which race will be next?

At the finish line!
Jesse Luna at the Santa to the Sea finish line!

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Training For My First Half Marathon #getfit

Jesse Luna - After training run

After losing 40 pounds, controlling my diabetes and running/cycling in a sprint duathlon, all in a few months time period, I ran and finished my first half marathon this past Sunday.

5 weeks ago I decided to run in the Santa To The Sea race which includes a half marathon and relay, 5K and a fun 1K run. Several people told me about the fun race to help local charities and provide presents and scholarships for local kids and I was in. My nephew wanted to run with me so I signed up for the 5K. I figured this would be a chance for me to work on my speed as I trained for the 2014 Camarillo Duathlon series.

I started running with purpose but didn’t have a specific plan. I just wanted to get out there and see where I was. After a few days it became clear that my nephew wasn’t ready to jump on board the race and I had other friends ask why I wasn’t doing the half marathon.

I thought back to the sprint duathlon in October where I ran 5K and cycled 11 miles. A half marathon meant I would run the entire distance. And, I would only have 5 weeks to train and be able to be on my feet up to three hours for the long 13.1+ mile race. It sounded like a good challenge so I switched my registration and signed up for the half marathon.

The Training Plan
The first thing I did was to start looking around for a good 5-week training plan. I found some great training tips on several different sites and the biggest takeaway was that I should take at least 10 if not 12 weeks to prepare for the race.

I took the best practice tips from different sources and put together a training plan that I thought would work for me and my work schedule. I wanted to build the running habit so I would run at least 3 times a week a minimum of 3 miles and do a larger run on the weekend.

On Week One, I started with a 3 mile run on Tuesday, a 2 mile run on Wednesday, a 3 mile run on Thursday and a larger 7 mile run on Sunday. The initial plan was to get me to a maximum big run of 11 miles. Running wisdom said that if I could get to 11 miles then “the spirit” would carry me to the end of the race. But, at the same time, I kept hearing about people who did a full 12 week training plan and only got to 10 or 11 miles and ended up hitting a wall at 11 miles during their actual race. I didn’t want to hit the wall so I decided to accelerate the accelerated plan and increase the big runs by 2 miles each week until I did the full 13 miles.

By Week Three, I was doing mostly 3 and 4 mile runs during the week and then I made the mistake of making too many changes during one run. I wore new running shoes, tried to reduce my heel strike, changed my arm swing and BLAM, felt a jolt of pain shoot up my calf. I was at mile 1 in that run and immediately turned around to head back to the car. As I hobbled back I felt a little better and even tried a light jog but felt the sharp pain again. I thought about whether I should go straight to urgent care and have a doctor look at things.

I started googling around and self-diagnosed myself with a minor calf tear. After going to work for a few hours, in pain, I decided to go into the doctor’s office and have it looked at. My regular doctor was unavailable so I saw a different doctor. We had some issues communicating effectively and my diagnosis was someone unclear. Was it an Achilles strain? I wasn’t clear but was given instructions to get off the leg and apply RICE – rest, ice, elevation and compression. I took the advice and went home to get some rest.

I was very disappointed that I had rushed things by trying to make too many changes at once. After a day of TLC from my wife I was feeling much better the next day and made it into work with an ice pack and ankle support that covered some of my calf. I kept checking running sites and figured that it was simply a calf strain. A couple of days later I was able to do a short run but took off several days from running and missed my third long run day. By the next Tuesday I went back to the training plan and took things easy. By the end of the week I didn’t feel any pain and went out for a long weekend run which was largely without problems.

In the Zone
A large part of my training strategy was to focus on my heart rate while training. I’ve heard good and bad things about using heart rate measures for training but because I’m still on a fitness journey from couch to an active lifestyle, I figured that would be the best approach. So for all of my training I kept things simple and made all of my runs at an easy pace. This is sometimes referred to as being at a “conversational pace” because you should be able to run and still have a conversation with someone.

I also used a heart rate monitor and only ran and walked hard enough to keep my heart rate in the 130 beats per minute (BPM) to 160 BPM range. This is a pretty broad range but is towards the lower easy range. 85% of my workouts were in the 135-145 BPM which often meant that if it got too close to 160 BPM that I would slow to a brisk walk. This run-walk strategy helped me increase my time on my feet, keep expanding my long weekend runs and kept me from getting re-injured.

There are a lot of complex theories on the different training zones and whether or training by heart rate is the best way but it served my training needs so I went with it and was very consistent. It was difficult to stick to it when I felt great running and wanted to “open it up.” I had to reign myself in. When my ego tried to jump in and wanted to go for some speed, I reminded myself that accomplished ultra marathoners often use this same easy pace training strategy to be able to run massive distances. This approach has really helped me improve my endurance engine.

The weekend before the half marathon, I did my last long run and ended up doing 14 miles. I wanted the psychological edge to be able to know that I could do the whole 13.1 miles and then some. I took it easy the last week and tapered the last few days to rest up for the big race. I’ll share the race highlights with you in my next blog post.

Keep in mind that I am not a running trainer nor do I intend to portray myself as one. Training for and running the half marathon was massive challenge physically and mentally. Besides the period where I recovered from my injury, I only missed one workout (not by choice) and increased the length of some workouts. I found myself really loving to run and have been soaking up running wisdom and information everywhere I go.

Besides the personal satisfaction of knowing that I was able to create a plan, stick to it and accomplish something I would have thought almost impossible a few months ago, it has been great seeing others inspired by my training and seeing them become more active. I use the #getfit tag on Twitter and Facebook whenever I did a run so feel free to check out those microposts.

Are you training for a run? I’d love to hear about it.

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In Case You Missed Them, Top #SFBatKid Tweets

It’s amazing to see all the support given to a young boy, Miles, who is being treated to a day he’ll always remember by the Make A Wish Foundation. Miles saw San Francisco transformed today and he went on an adventure as his idol, Batman. The city of San Francisco became Gotham for one special day and the Twittersphere was lighting up over it as it followed and contributed to the #SFBatKid hashtag.

Twitter recently released a new Custom Timeline feature for the Tweetdeck Web application. I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out the custom timeline feature as the Twittersphere followed the courageous adventures of #SFBatKid.

This is a curated list of Twitter tweets from this morning/afternoon.

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Santa Barbara International Veterans Marathon and Half 2013

I’m training for the Santa to the Sea half marathon in Oxnard in early December so thought I’d check out the scene in Santa Barbara. I also had a couple of friends running in the Santa Barbara International Veterans Marathon and Half so that was all the reason I needed to head up there and take some photos.

Plus, today is my cross-training day so I took my camera and bike and got in a nice numbers of miles while covering the action.

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