Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year, New Goals

With Christmas cookies slowly disappearing, I know the new year must be approaching quickly.

Like many others, I like to sit down in late December and make a couple of goals for the coming new year. I try to stay away from the cliche "lose this many pounds" or "not eat chocolate" and set attainable goals that I can work at continuously throughout the year.

While I haven't ever shared many of my resolutions in the past, I thought I would share my running-related ones this year. My hope is that you all will help to keep me accountable, and that the added pressure of letting you all know will motivate me to stick with each and every goal. Maybe it'll even encourage you to set some running-related goals for the new year.

Without further adieu, the following is a list of running goals I have set for myself for 2011:

Complete five marathons. (Signed up for 3 already so i'm on my way)

Run every day of the year. (Minimum of 2 miles a day and 20 miles a week)

Run 2011 miles. (Cliche, I know)

Train for and finish a 50 mile race in January of 2011. (Avalon 50 on Catalina Island is my goal)

Well, that's a lot of miles. I better get out there and get goin...

Just RUN

Running in the rain is uncomfortable. It's hard to see, your clothes feel incredibly heavy and dodging puddles and cars turns an easy morning run into an obstacle course. However, the moer uncomfortable it get's the more exciting the challenge becomes.

This morning I woke up to the sound of a steady rain outside my window. I looked out to see a dark sky and rain falling into large puddles. I did my best to shake off the morning drowsiness and I suited up for battle.

There's something about a challenging run that makes it easier for me. Some would call it adrenaline, others might say I have a problem, but the harder the run the more excited I am to try it.

Life is that way sometimes, isn't it? We dread the mundane, ordinary lives many of us live and seek a challenge to get our blood pumping. In my opinion, it's crucial to continuously challenge yourself, to force yourself beyond your comfort zone and to push yourself. It can be a phyical challenge, or it can be emotional, mental or even spiritual, but the best way to be your best self is to push those limits.

Push yourself today. Find something exciting and challenging and give it a shot. It could even start with a simple run in the rain.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PPD Due to Rain

There are races in California year-round, unlike many other places in the U.S. that actually have seasons and deal with 'inclement weather'. Here in beautiful So Cal we are so spoiled that four straight days of 'inclement weather' has sent everyone into a rain-soaked craze, myself included.

Sure the bad drivers on the freeway get under my skin and of course getting drenched on the walk to my car isn't fun, but what's really gotten to me is the time i've missed running. My body has become so accustomed to daily exercise that it literally craves it every morning. Not starting my day off with a run throws everything else out of sync.

It hasn't rained like this in years and for the sake of everyone's sanity, I hope it stops soon. Christmas time makes everyone crazy enough as it is, let's not rain on that parade.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Maniac #3205

I am very happy to report that by running 3 marathons in a span of 35 days, I have officially become a "Marathon Maniac" ( Although my goal is six marathons in six months, I am pumped to join this group of runners and will represent the Maniacs in my next race.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The 50K Mud Run (Race Report)

The many months of training all came down to this day. I stood in the freezing cold as my mind started to wander..."Looks like it might rain...I hope my legs hold up...Dangit, I have to pee...Is that rain?"

Sure enough, less than 30 second before the start of the race the skies opened up. With very little time to worry about it, we were off and running. The rain felt nice at first, a lot better than blistering heat, I thought. A few miles in and some easy hills behind me, I was feeling pretty confident.

Then came the mud.

Slipping and sliding in the mud might be fun for football, but no one is laughing when you're running 31 miles covered in the stuff. Slow ascents became a crawl (sometimes literally) and quick downhills turned into a gentle walk, hoping not to slip and fall off a cliff.

As many of you know, I challenged myself to spend the entire race in a posture of prayer, committing to 31 people/groups and to spending time talking with Jesus. I cannot describe how enjoyable my time with Him was. Prayer has never felt so natural to me. I don't know if it was being in nature, or seven plus hours of solitude, but I felt His presence with me the entire time.

Quick sidenote: Thank you to everyone who prayed for me during this race and to those of you who were of the 31, you all encouraged me and helped me perservere. And to those of you not written on my arm, rest assured you were prayed for at some point during the race.

Back to the mud...

My energy was running low and my legs were starting to feel the pressure of the hills. With about 20 miles down and 11 or so to go, I started to question myself. I had been running for well over five hours and my body was feeling it. I knew my family was at the next aid station so I pushed on.

When I saw my family waiting for me, I thought i'd let them know how I was feeling...

In all honesty, I couldn't have been happier to see them. I stopped for some food, Advil and red vines and was quickly on my way. About 6 miles and a killer ascent left...

Seeing my family gave me a huge boost, but it was followed immediately by an 800 foot climb over a mile and a half stretch. I pushed myself, knowing that once I reached the top, it was all downhill to the finish.

As I reached the final aid station with three miles to go, I looked at my watch and realized my goal of finishing under eight hours was still well within reach. My legs felt strong as I flew down the hill, running my fastest miles of the day.

As I came to the final half-mile, I was shocked that my legs felt so fresh. I spent a few minutes praising God for carrying me through before I kicked into a "sprint", passing a few people on my way to the turn just before the finish. With my family screaming and yelling, I crossed the finish line pumped up and full of energy. Official finishing time: 7:39:44
The course, the people and the mud were all unforgettable and my time with Jesus will forever change the way I pray. I signed up for this race hoping to push myself's safe to say I got a lot more than I bargained for.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


First off...

Two days remain until I take on my biggest challenge yet, the 50K. The ultramarathon has been a goal of mine for a while now and i'm ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to conquer it. With that being said, I know it will not be easy.

Fifty kilometers is just over 31 miles, or five miles longer than a full marathon. Now, five miles may not seem like much, but ask any distance runner and they will tell you that the farther you run, the longer the miles seem. Given the added mileage and the extreme elevation change (13,000 ft of change), I am aware of the intense pain i'll have to endure for seven or eight hours.

I don't want to be misunderstood, I am not throwing these stats out there seeking any praise. Believe me, if it was praise or attention I was seeking I would find a much less painful way to get it. I simply share these things with you all so you will have a better understanding of my stories.

A change of pace...

In all my previous races, the question wasn't if I would finish, but when. A slave to the clock, I would stress over my pace and where I placed among finishers (even though it was normally in the middle of the pack). This is the first race i've wondered "if" I will finish. The pending rain and therefore muddy trails can be my worst enemy, but it's going to take a natural disaster to keep me from finishing this race. Six, seven, eight, nine or even 10 hours...I will cross that finish line.


Often on my morning runs I will take about five or 10 minutes to talk with God. I'll turn off the ipod and just pray as I run, most of the time I get distracted by something on the road and forget about it altogether. I think I can say the same for my prayer life in general. More often that not, when I remember, I will pray for a few minutes and then go off and continue with my day. I have God available to me at all times and I fail to realize that he is with me and wants to hear from me.

Prayer is a HUGE part of having a personal relationship with Jesus and it is something I have failed at over and over again. Several days ago, I was on a run thinking about my prayer life and realized that just like running, prayer takes work. Just as I carve out time to run in the mornings, I need to make time for prayer. I may not always be in the mood to run, but I do it anyways because I know it strengthens me. The same goes for my conversations with God.

As I run this Saturday, I will forego the iPod and instead spend a day talking with my Savior. I've made a list of 31 people/groups/families/topics to use as a guideline and have sought out prayer requests from others. I know that following Jesus takes work. It is imperative to be intentional, to seek out the challenges and to conquer them in His name.

When I set out to conquer the trails this Saturday, I know I won't be doing it alone.

Monday, November 29, 2010

First date butterflies

Five days remain until I run my first 50K and judging by the butterflies in my stomach I know this isn't just any other race. Despite the recent arrival of some new life in my legs, the fear of the unknown is still getting the best of me as I wonder what lies ahead and why exactly I decided to do this.

Don't misunderstand my fear, I am completely confident I will finish the race and hope to do so in a respectable time. The anxious-nervous-maybe-a-tad-bit-worried feeling I have is more like what you'd feel before a first date. I'm confident in myself and the plan i've set out, but I just don't know what "she" (the trails) will throw my way.

Come to think about it, running and dating are similar in a lot of ways...but that's a post for another day.

Forecast shows a high of 60 with a decent chance of rain...there go the butterflies again...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New life

For the last few weeks my legs have felt incredibly heavy. At times i've even felt as if I were running in quicksand. My mind would tell my legs to move fast, but I felt like I was hardly above a quick jog.

I knew this was normal following two marathons within two weeks of each other, but my legs had never felt this dead before and they didn't seem to be improving much. With my 50k only 10 days away I was beginning to worry.

I laced up my shoes this morning, cautious of the fact that I may have to put up with my 'dead legs' for 10 miles, and was out the door. After a warm-up jog I picked up the pace a bit and much to my surprise I found myself moving at a decent clip. "Not gonna last" I told myself, thinking my legs would revert back to the heavy state they had been in for the past couple weeks.

The miles kept ticking away and I was able to keep with the pace, even pushing it at times and challenging a couple of hills. People passing on the sidewalk probably wondered why I looked so happy, but I didn't care if I looked crazy. My legs had new life and that gave me new energy. I finished the run well ahead of my usual pace with a huge smile on my face (please forgive the rhyme...i'm a poet).

A workout like this comes around very seldomly, but I enjoyed every second of it. After my 50k next week when my legs are heavy and my body hurts, i'll be dreaming of this morning's run.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My next training partner

Over the last few years I have had some phenomenal training partners. Friends, family, young and old have come out on the roads with me and I couldn't be happier that they did. I might have to wait a few years for my next training partner, especially considering he doesn't even know how to walk yet.

Last night I met my new baby nephew, Ethan. To say I am a proud uncle would be a huge understatement...

I sat with him for hours last night as he dozed off and drooled all over me. I couldn't help but think about who he will be as he grows up, the personality he will take on and the things he'll like to do.

I can't wait until that one day, years from now, when Little E and I go for a run and talk about life. Until then, i'll keep enjoying the pint-sized 14 pound version of him. I mean look at him, how could you not?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Conquering Catalina for my first buffalo (Race Report)

As I crossed the finish line of the Catalina Eco Marathon on Saturday, I looked at my girlfriend and said, "That was the hardest thing i've ever had to do in my entire life". Fighting back a flurry of emotions, I tried to explain why. Here, in a much more coherent fashion, is a recap of my experience...

The morning was a bit of a marathon itself, with a 4:40 am wake-up call, a thirty minute drive to the dock, an hour long boat ride to the island, a taxi ride and a half-mile walk to the start. By the 8 a.m. start I was ready for a nap, but little did I know that things were about to get a whole lot worse.

At the beginning of a race, runners normally take off running faster than their usual pace with their bodies full of adrenaline. With a steep three mile incline to start this race, most, if not all of the runners were walking. The incline was so steep that I was walking at the same speed as the guy next to me, who appeared to be running (or at least trying).

I immediately regretted my decision in choosing this race.

This was supposed to be a training run, to prepare me for my 50K in December and to be a nice day on the island. Three miles in and my legs were burning, the temperature was already north of 70 degrees and my right calf decided it would nag me yet again.

After we reached the top of our incline and I looked 1,500 feet down on the town of Avalon, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the few feet of flat trails I had before the hills returned. I knew I had a few miles until the next large incline so I did my best to keep a quick pace and take advantage of the terrain.

Miles 4-18 were tough, but beautiful. With the ocean all around us and eagles flying overhead, I couldn't think of a more beautiful place to run. We dropped down into a valley and ran on single tracks in swamplands, underneath trees in a wooded area and across sand skirting a lake. This course is a trail-runners dream.

The trail runner's dream became a nightmare at mile 19. Signs foreshadowed the upcoming "Catalina Crush" hill. Rather than tell you my true feelings about this hill, I will remove all expletives and simply tell you I hated it.

While refilling on water and partaking in the goodies at the aid station (which were unbelievably amazing), I saw an older woman who I had passed a couple of times earlier in the day. She would shuffle along at a decent pace, never slowing. I would blow by her only to see her shuffle by me while I took a walking break.

We exchanged pleasantries and started running side by side. As time passed, we got to know each other, talked about running, work, relationships and life. Amazed by the story of this 65 year old ultra-marathon runner, the miles went by in a flash. There were more inclines and it kept getting hotter, but my new friend Carol carried me through those miles while inspiring me with her incredible story. What an incredible blessing she was to me.

The descent back into Avalon began just after mile 23. Relieved at the sight of some steep downhills, Carol bid me farewell as her physical limitations forced her to take the downhills with extreme caution. I promised i'd see her at the finish and I pressed on.

Stumbling (sometimes literally) down the mountain, just about every part of my body hurt. I had been running for longer than I ever had before and my legs hadn't seen a fraction of this abuse in my years of running. Finally, we reached the asphalt road and mile marker 25. I kicked into gear, desperate to finish.

Coming down the homestretch with my gas tank on empty, I squeezed out one last burst of energy and crossed the finish line. "Give me my buffalo!" I thought as the volunteer handed me my medal.

My legs were cramping and my feet were sore, my head hurt and my stomach groaned. My amazing girlfriend met me at the finish line, ready and willing to help in any way possible. I told her I needed to go back to the finish line...I made a promise to Carol.

Standing near the finish, I saw Carol off in the distance, shuffling along with a smile on her face. I cheered as she approached and gave her a high-five, thanking her as she shuffled onward. What an inspiring woman...this was her 35th marathon on Catalina Island alone, and she crossed the finish line taking 1st place in her age group.

This was a race I will truly never forget. The unbelievable views became a footnote to the people I met and the challenges I faced. My finishing time was over an hour longer than my usual mark, but I could not care less. Earning the medal was the goal, but the journey in getting there was the true reward.

Lindsey and I spent the rest of the day in Catalina, eating, playing mini golf and enjoying the island. The fun and peaceful afternoon by the water was just what I needed after a hellish time in the hills.

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for more posts as I recover and prepare for the North Face 50K. God Bless!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hungry for a buffalo - my first trail marathon

It's here again. It's been less than two weeks since I toed the line for 26.2 in San Jose, but this Saturday i'll run up hills and pass herds of buffalo on my way to finishing 26.2 in Catalina.

A whole new challenge lies ahead of me, and it's only an appetizer to the main course which comes December 4th (North Face 50K). This is my first-ever trail race and i've been told it's going to be rough. To make matters worse, I intended to train on trails a lot more than I actually did.

Should be interesting.

I wouldn't say i'm scared or even nervous. It's more of a blend of cautiousness and doubt. How will my calf hold up after nagging me the last two weeks? How will these hills affect my energy late in the race? Will the trails humble me even more than the roads already do?

All of these questions will be answered Saturday. I'll face these doubts the same way I face tough hills, by running hard and getting over 'em.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Next challenge: Bring home a buffalo

In about a week and a half, I am going to attempt something a little crazy (even for me)...I will travel to Catalina island and bring home a buffalo.

You heard me right.

For those of you picturing me trying to fit a buffalo into the back of my jeep, let me put your mind at ease. The buffalo I am referring to is the finishers medal for my next marathon. It is very well known amongst marathoners as being one of the top medals in the marathon-world. Here's a look at it...

I should point out that the large majority of runners dont run for the medal. Of course, what it signifies is very important, but the design or size of it is of little importance to most.
Think of it like a wedding ring...most women (hopefully) don't care if their ring is big, small, simple or extravagant. What is most important to them is what is symbolizes. When I look at each of my medals, I can instantly tell you the race it was from and the experience I had in getting it.
I'm hoping there's a great story behind my buffalo. Stay tuned for that race report, November 13th.

Do you know the way to San Jose? (Race Report)

We spent the entire day in San Francisco, checking out the sites, having fun in our Halloween costumes (see above), watching the World Series and partaking in a couple adult beverages at a local speakeasy.
Still feeling a little drowsy from an eventful Saturday, Lindsey and I headed to the start line. For the first time ever, I was able to walk to the start line...and it took less than five minutes! A welcome change from the usual early morning wake-up call, traffic/shuttle to the start.
Trying to maximize every second of sleep I could, I arrived to the start line just a few minutes before the race began. Not leaving enough time for nerves to kick in, we were off. We made our way through five or six miles of San Jose streets before embarking on about 14 miles of paved trails.
The weather was beautiful, around 60 degrees with limited cloud cover. The trail was perfect with rolling hills and some trees to provide a little shade.
About seven miles in I was amazed at the people around me, it seemed as if everybody had decided to run the same exact pace. Nobody passed me and I hardly passed anyone. If you've ever run a race before, you know how rare this is. This went on until the half-marathoners split off at mile 13.
Passing the half-marathon finish line was like seeing the end of the movie half-way through. A big part of me wanted to cross that finish line and call it a day. Nevertheless, I made a right turn and kept on with the running. In perfect timing, I was greeted with a few large hills immediately after passing the half-marathon finish line festival. Turning around wasn't an option, as badly as I wanted to I forced myself on.
Around mile 20 my legs were still feeling pretty good and I was staying ahead of my target pace. I briefly thought to myself, "Maybe this gets easier the more I do it...maybe this won't hurt so bad this time".
Coming up on mile 23 my body started its usual slow and methodic shutdown. (I'm being a bit dramatic here, it actually isnt as deadly as it sounds). My right calf tightened up and I felt a sharp pain in my left groin, not enough to make me stop but more than enough to bring a grimace to my face.
With the Catalina Marathon 13 days away, I wasn't interested in being prideful and pushing myself to the point of injury so I took my time the last few miles. I encouraged other runners while slipping into a run/walk that probably looked more like a walk/stop.
The mile 26 marker finally appeared and I kicked it up a notch, making certain to finish at my goal pace. It hurt just as bad as my previous marathons, but the feeling of finishing was worth it.
Finishing number six was special to me for a couple of reasons. First, because it was the first marathon I ran as a "training run". I was able to enjoy myself and not worry at all about my time. More importantly, I was able to share the experience with two very important people in my life, Mario and Waldo. Thank you both for being there to support me. Knowing you were at the finish line motivated me more than I could ever tell you.
With hardly enough time to think back on my experience, I have to look ahead to my next race. In 11 days I will be hopping on a boat for Catalina to take on the hills and earn myself a buffalo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Race Week

The early morning time that I normally spend running is being used for extra sleep and my morning prayers are focusing on health and rested legs. That's right, it's race week. Countless hours of training will be tested this Sunday as I take on 26.2 for the sixth time.

This race feels different than any of my others I have run, perhaps because I am considering it a training run, or maybe just because i'm "settling in" to this distance and have gotten use to pounding the pavement for 4 hours.

Scratch that...I dont think I will ever "settle in" to this distance. While it doesn't scare me the way it used to, I will inevitably hit a wall or fight some nagging pain. Regardless of your physical build, your finishing time or your training, 26.2 will humble you.

I expect to be humbled this Sunday. Discovering (again) my limitations will push me to stretch them and that's what running, and life, is all about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

So you want to run a marathon?

Runners come in all shapes and sizes. If you don't believe me, show up to the start line of a marathon and see for yourself. At any given race, you are bound to see runners with chiseled bodies and others with couch potato physiques, some shaped like body builders and others who carry their AARP cards with them. The only thing that all of these people have in common is determination. Somewhere along the way, they made the decision to run 26.2 and lived up to their commitment.

"Why would anyone want to run that far?" is the question I hear most often. While I could write a novel on the countless reasons to run 26.2, I thought I would share some that you may not have already heard...

-Burning over 1,000 calories a day allows you to eat pretty much anything. I'd be careful though, that double chocolate fudge cake will haunt you on your next run.

- Running allows you to see more of the world. Whether it's your hometown or a vacation spot, take some time to explore.

- Find some sanity. You're gonna spend a lot of time alone with your thoughts, might as well make the best of it.

- Sleep like a baby. Dont believe me? Go run for a couple of hours and take a hot shower...good luck making it to the bed before you fall asleep.

-Free beer at the end of a race. Running 26.2 makes anyone a lightweight!

Some run to stay in shape, others to accomplish a goal, but all run with determination. Find what motivates you and use it to run 26.2, I guarantee you won't regret it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm a junkie

I ran across an article on addiction today and although this is a very serious issue, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Am I addicted to running?". Let's take a look at the symptoms the article listed, followed by my analysis of whether or not I am a candidate:

Tolerance - the need to engage in the addictive behavior more and more to get the desired effect. (I'm running in more races in the next six months than I have run in my 25 years on earth. Check.)

Withdrawal - happens when the person does not take the substance or engage in the activity, and they experience unpleasant symptoms, which are often the opposite of the effects of the addictive behavior. (Feeling restless on a day off or jealous when I see someone else out running. Check.)

Difficulty cutting down or controlling the addictive behavior. (Even with a full schedule, I can't help but look for more races. Check.)

Social, occupational or recreational activities becoming more focused around the addiction, and important social and occupational roles being jeopardized. (Can't stay out late, won't drink and my girlfriend knows how much time I can spend with her is solely based on how many miles I have to run the next morning. Check.)

The person becoming preoccupied with the addiction, spending a lot of time on planning, engaging in, and recovering from the addictive behavior. (Hundreds of dollars and races and even more on gear. Check.)

I am slowly coming to terms with my addiction and realizing the effects it has on other areas of my life. However, the only help I plan on seeking is from my ipod. The only support group I am looking for is more people to run with.

Some people turn to the bottle and others turn to narcotics. Not me. My name is Ryan and I am a running junkie.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

6 in 6: My new challenge

After rediscovering the old joy and excitement I used to have while running (see previous post), I decided i'd test my limits and try to OD on that excitement. In my quest to become a "Marathon Maniac" ( ) I am currently training to run six marathons in six months. I chose to humbly share this with you, not seeking any praise, but rather your support. Here is what I would gladly accept from you:

- An offer to accompany me on a training gets lonely out there sometimes.
- Better yet, run one of the races with me.
- A word or two of encouragement before my races.
- Come see me cross a finish line or'd be surprised how motivated I get knowing people are waiting for me at the finish.
- If you see me out running, throw a brother a red vine.

Following is a list of the races i'll be running in. If you're a runner, join me! If you're not, cheer me on at the race or via your technological messaging system of choice...

October 31 - Silicon Valley Marathon (San Jose, CA)
November 13 - Catalina Marathon (Avalon, CA)
December 4 - North Face Endurance Challenge 50K (Sausalito, CA)
January 23 - Carlsbad Marathon (Carlsbad, CA)
February 6 - Surf City Marathon (Huntington Beach, CA)
March 20 - Los Angeles Marathon (Los Angeles, CA)


Monday, October 4, 2010

Back in the game

Have you ever visited a favorite old childhood spot and felt envigorated thinking about the experiences you had there? Maybe you visited Disneyland as an adult and all the childhood excitement you once had came rushing back to you. Or maybe you hopped on a bicycle for the first time in years and your sense of adventure was renewed. This past July, I experienced this phenomenon while running the San Francisco Marathon.

I know, I my last post I said I may not ever run another marathon. As a matter of fact, I didnt run for nearly four months. Then in March I felt the urge to get back out there, I thought I had kicked my addiction, but my time away only fueled my desire. On my first run in months, I came to a few conclusions:

1. Four months off severely depleted my stamina...I was struggling mightily to finish just a few miles.

2. I can't believe I waited this long to get back out here.

3. From now on, I won't let anything or anyone steal the joy I have when i'm running.

After a few months of training, I headed up to San Francisco and had a blast running 26.2. The course, the crowds and the race were all top notch. Sticking with my theme of just having fun, I paid no attention to my pace or my time, allowing myself to walk when I needed and even took a couple pictures and sent a couple text messages. What an incredibly enjoyable four hours. After finishing, my mind started wandering off as I pondered my next race...that's when I hatched a maniacal plan. More on that in my next post...