2019 Reflection

It's been some time...

I'm kind of obsessed with self-help books, podcasts and using social media for growth opportunities. One of the topics came up about how a big part of growing is to make sure you set some time aside to write. I pretty much stopped writing years ago once I stopped competing which I regret (the writing part). It was always such a great outlet to journal, get creative and it truly motivated me to become better.

I'll give it another shot, especially after reading analytics on this blog -people still actually read!

A lot has happened since I stopped competing in 2014. We had two more kids (Bo-4, Juliet-3), I became self-employed and own a few businesses now which was at first frightening but now enlightening and comes with a lot of freedom. I expanded my coaching business for adults and even started coaching Cross Country/Track at a small local private school.

Training? Racing?

I raced a 5k in 2017 and ran 17:59.

Then I did make a small attempt to break 2:40 in the marathon --read about it HERE.

Then there was a short stint of getting the band back together to break the 4x800 masters world record --read about it HERE.

Both fell through miserably haha. They seemed like great ideas at the time but...I ran out of time for what was needed to accomplish them. They are on hold for now... I've always loved to dream big and it never hurts to give it your best shot. Before I had these successful business ventures, I failed at 7 start up companies, wasted a lot of money, time and energy. But guess what? It's exactly what I needed to be successful now. Don't be afraid to fail.

I signed up for the Carlsbad Marathon, Half Marathon and 5k in January. I'm doing the 5k - DREAM BIG! I've been struggling to find motivation to train this year so I decided to force the issue and actually pay money for a race. It seems to be working - I've had two pretty consistent weeks of training and as long as I stay healthy, I'll shoot to break 18 mins again on these 40 year old legs of mine.

One thing I noticed from coaching high school cross country and track is that you give so much of your coaching energy to these kids day in and day out that you neglect to take care of yourself - something I'm going to work on.

As I reflect on 2019, it was such a great year:

Turned 40 with some of my best friends at a 2-day golf tourney

Was a Marshall at the State Farm Open and marked/briefly spoke to Tiger Woods!
Indoor sky-diving with the kiddos
Snuggles with Juliet
Running in Belgium
Beers in Belgium, Nederlands, France
San Francisco with my love

Helped Darren get to Kona!

CIF -SS Champion Runner Ups
Holidays with my favorites
Cheers to 2020, a new decade!

~As always, thanks for reading-

World Record Attempt: Masters 4x800 Relay

The year we won...and set the 4x800 indoor national record which still stands today

One thing I'll never regret in life is my ability to take every opportunity that is presented to me that will make me into a better/stronger version of myself. It's how I make decisions both big and small. Will I come out on the other end better or worse?

Tackling the 2:40 marathon is no doubt a big test of discipline and grit. Going from 10 pounds overweight and out of shape to a sub 2:40 marathon in one year is a very tall task! I've been back at it for 14 weeks now and dropped the 10 pounds, been fairly consistent with workouts and efforts/pace have improved each week.

Now let's flash back to 99...ha.

Back in 1999, four kids from California Baptist University set the national indoor record in the 4x800 meter relay in 7:31 which still stands today. Months later that same team went to the Penn Relays and took on the biggest and fastest schools in the nation and ran 7:19 with a dropped baton. I think we went 1:50 (me), 1:49 (Nate Browne)...dropped baton (was it Nate or Ricky?)....1:47 (Ricky Etheridge), 1:47 (Milton Browne). Pretty solid for a small school out of Riverside, CA.

All four of us are coaches now and somehow the topic of the masters world record 4x800 relay came up last year. We checked out the results and this is what we found:

35-397:55.67NON-CLUB :
Miles Smith
Michael Schroer
Jason Rhodes
Scott Anderson
Williamsburg, VA2010-Apr-03
35-398:12.33CLUB: SoCal TC:
Terrance Spann
Bryan Dameworth
Alex Hastings
Brian Sax
Walnut, CA2010-Apr-16
40-497:54.17NON-CLUB :
John Hinton
Brian Pope
Kevin Paulk
Tony Young
Eugene, OR2004-Jun-27
40-498:09.46CLUB: Central Park TC:
Neil Fitzgerald
Anselm LeBourne
Chris Potter
Gladstone Jones
New York, NY2009-Jul-11

That pans out to each of us going about 1:58-59 for the 800 meters.

Nate blew his ACL a few years ago so he is out of the equation but we had another guy we ran with at Cal Baptist, Angel Romero who has stayed in decent shape over the years. We reached out to him and he is in!

So a change of plans. Rather then going after sub 2:40 in the marathon, we are officially going after the 4x800 masters world record! Quite the difference in distances haha...I was a miler/5k guy so the shorter distance definitely suits me better - which I know is why I struggled at the IM distance. I will still tackle the marathon, but am going after this first which - will be great speed to take into eventual marathon training.

Since I'm turning 39 next month, we will have a full year to go sub 2. About 5 years ago when I was training for 70.3's I ran 2:08 on the track so I have no doubt I'll be able to do it once I get some speed work under me. I think the biggest challenge is keeping all 4 of us healthy - especially once we get on the track for speed. I think the initial plan is getting out for some track meets this year, get in shape and then attempt the world record next April 2019 at Mt. Sac Relays once I'm 40. 

So I had to restructure my training plan...big time. I'm going to get in 5k shape, then 3200 shape, then mile, 800, etc. Doing it this way to limit the chance of getting injured. 

The tentative racing plan for 2018 now looks like this:

March 25: Carlsbad 5000
April: Mt. Sac Relays
July 4: Old Pro's 4th of July 10k
Summer: USA Masters Games / San Diego Twilight Track Meets
July 26: Masters Outdoor National Championships

After taking several years off of "real" racing, I'm excited to lace up the spikes again and get on the track. Masters 4x800 World Record, here we come!

Finally feeling good

Disneyland for Thanksgiving with my crew!
There was a few weeks there when I was SLOWLY jogging along around 9 min pace and was seriously wondering if I could do this big goal of mine. I started back over a month ago and didn't think it would take this long to show some signs of progress.

Every run seemed to be the same 8-10 min pace run and none of them felt very good. Then just as I was doubting, I had a few forced day offs - Disneyland for Thanksgiving! Then I started back up again this week and what do you know - the magic is coming back!

So what do you do as a coach/athlete when you see something like this happen? You duplicate it. So I'm going to be going 3 weeks on then 1 week easy/recovery week. Friel really believes in this strategy...I do to a certain extent - however, I don't think there's such thing as a "one plan fits all" kind of approach. Each athlete is SO different and responds to training in their own unique way. Then when you get older, you still need to make adjustments. I have 20+ years of running experience under my belt and I know what works for me but again, making adjustments from the signals my body gives me (not just copying what I have on my training plan) is going to be key in hitting sub 2:40.

So feeling better is coming at just the right time -next week starts my second block of training. Here's how I've split them up:

Block 1
Lose weight/get in shape/consistency - 7 weeks

Block 2
Add speed components, lengthen long runs and raise overall mileage - 10 weeks

Block 3
Marathon specific training - 12 weeks

Race Orange County Marathon - May 6th

You can follow along with my training on Strava!

Thanks for reading!

Fitness in sight

View from some trails out my front door
Five weeks of fitness in the books. That first month was miserable but I deserve it for neglecting my fitness for so long. I coach adults and high school athletes and I always tell them how miserable those first several weeks are for getting in shape. This was a good taste of my own medicine.

Fitness is sight though. I can feel it coming on and my patience is paying off. I'm also being very diligent with rolling, massage, rest, diet, etc. I'm not waking up incredibly sore and seem to be bouncing back from workouts easier then I have in years. This is also my first time training seriously for something with Hoka's on my feet. I get jokes all the time that they are for old men...Well that's kinda the point! I'm turning 40 in just over a year so I'll take any advantage I can! I can feel noticeable differences in running with Hoka's. That's saying a lot with 20 years of running experience under my belt. Everyone that knows me, knows that I'm very susceptible to injury - all of those years of abuse and hard mileage leaves me very vulnerable to injury. I truly think the Hoka's will be my secret weapon in this goal of mine to break 2:40 in the marathon.  

It's very surreal to dive back into the sport of running. Even though I did triathlon for 4-5 years, I really haven't immersed myself into the sport since 2002 when I left my dream of qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 5000 meters while training/competing for Bob Schul's Olympic Development team in Ohio. Back then I lived and breathed the 5000 meters - reading and watching everything I could...

I'm doing the same thing now, but for the marathon. No, I'm not trying to qualify for the trials! It's just that I'm an all or nothing kind of personality, especially when it comes to athletics. I'm just obsessed with trying to get the most out of my body and this goal is no different. 

Olympic Trials, came close...Qualifying for IM 70.3 WC's, check...Qualifying for Kona in my "Kona Journey, nope... Breaking 2:40 in the marathon before I'm 40? TBD!

Thanks for reading.

Long Road Back

Being patient is going to be my biggest challenge. The 20 something James thinks he can train and get fit without getting hurt. I've done a good job so far at ignoring those voices and just focusing on the plan I have written out. I guess you do get wiser with age? Still, TBD...

So far mileage has looked like:

Week 1: 17 miles
Week 2: 26 miles
Week 3: 26 miles
Week 4: 26 miles
(all with one day off each week)

I'll be bumping up to 30 next week and just slowly raising mileage with no intensity to 45 miles a week by the end of the year. First week of January will be my first block of two where I will slowly add intensity and continue to build up mileage.

Depending on now the body reacts, if all goes well I plan on maxing out around 100 miles/week, something I haven't done since I was 20! I highly doubt I'll get that high but you never know if I continue to stay disciplined, consistent and healthy.

Just a short three years ago I was backing up a 70.3 triathlon races with low 1:20 half marathons so, although the marathon is a different animal, the idea of going 6:06 pace doesn't seem that all fair fetched. I actually may be changing my marathon debut to the Orange County marathon in May as to make sure to collect on some bets that are in the process of being made...

2:40 or bust!

2:40 before 40

I have this void that I cannot avoid. 

For the past several years I've been "forcing" myself back to the sport of triathlon. I enjoyed those 4 years of training/racing so much and I think I was chasing that. It seemed like every time I started getting into a training groove I would run into big life changes and I would put it all on hold for months at a time, get out of shape and do it all over again.

As you can imagine, that became exhausting and frustrating. During these past 3 years...wow, 3 years since I last raced - I have always thought about the idea of doing an open marathon. But not just for fun and games but to actually train for one and RACE it. I've thrown down a decent half marathon of 1:14 about 4 years ago and a bunch of sub 1:10's in regular lactate threshold training runs in college lol (I never even knew that was very fast at the time).

So fast forward to now! I started my own business, our baby girl Juliet is one and after discussing it with Amy - we think now is a good time to go after my new goal of breaking 2:40 in the marathon before I'm 40 years old which gives me 1 year and 4 months to train and accomplish this goal. I always tell my high school team that you have to have big goals to accomplish big things. 2:40 isn't necessarily super fast but for how out of shape I am right now and the little time I have, it really is.

It's not going to be easy. I'm definitely out of shape and have years of abuse on these legs. So lots of aches and pains as I get back to speed...pun? In the past my build up has been pretty aggressive as I think I'm still a young kid chasing dreams. This time, I'm putting on my coaches hat and training myself the same way I would train one of my athletes while incorporating key workouts that I know I respond well to.

I'm 3 weeks in back to training. Just easy 30-45 min runs each day ~20-25 miles a week (you can follow all of my workouts on Strava - link on the left). Mileage will slowly increase each week for the remainder of the year with zero intensity other than occasional runs where I feel good and increase pace a bit. Basically, giving what my body craves, whether that means taking a day off or going a little longer/faster - it's smart that way.

I'm targeting the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon in June. I don't run well in the heat so that's not in my favor with a time goal but it's a local race where I can train and sleep at home during race week which will give me my best shot of doing it in my first attempt. I will have 2 build phases starting in January with some 5k, 10ks and a half marathons leading up to June. I'm excited to race in the local scene again - a lot of familiar names/faces are still racing and I can't wait to line up with them again like old times, with old legs and gray hair slowly starting to show.

So 2:40 before I'm 40. That's 6:06 / mile pace. Back to my first love. Let this new journey begin!

Thanks for reading -

The Island

Juliet is almost 5 months! It's been SO fun watching her grow and develop. It's also been really eye-opening these past several months learning more about Down Syndrome.

We didn't know much about DS when we found out the day she was born. We were scared for the unknown and all we knew about it were all the "negatives" associated with it. The saddest thing we have learned is that our culture puts Down Syndrome on this island. An island where they want to detect it while in the womb so it gives the parents the option to abort. An island where the "hardships" and "challenges" of DS will take over the rest of your life. Speech problems, physical problems, health problems, developmental problems - it's looked at as such a burden and it's really really sad.

Let me tell you something. The island looks A LOT different than you think. The island is filled with an overwhelming amount of love. Our family has been transformed all because of this amazing girl. This is our fourth child and although our first three got a lot of oohh's and aahh's, nothing compares to the reaction she gets from strangers and friends that meet her. It's like she oozes with this indescribable love; a kind of love that we all seek and she has it radiating from her. We can't get enough of it!

We are finally seeing a shift in the way the world looks at DS. Instead of labeling them with a disability, we are starting to see that if you challenge them like any other kid, they will grow and develop just like any child. It is not scary - see for yourself! CLICK HERE.

We have been blessed with a healthy DS baby. We are fully aware of the road ahead but we also know that every child (and young adult) has it's challenges!

Love you Juliet, we are so lucky to have you in our family!