Monday, February 15, 2010

Santa Barbara Lodging Options

The Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon takes place on SATURDAY, MAY.8, 2010. Santa Barbara is roughly 6-7 hour drive from San Francisco.

So, you will likely want to come down on FRIDAY and stay overnight.

Here's a link to lodging info. close to the race-Hotels/Lodging near the race

Additionally, I have arranged for a couple lodging options for you to take advantage of:

Santa Barbara

I've managed to secure a block of rooms at the Fess Parker Doubletree in Santa Barbara.

FYI, there is a shuttle that will take people from this hotel to the start of the race leaving at roughly 5:30AM on Saturday, May.8. (*NOTE-There will be a small fee associated with taking the shuttle. I am tracking down the details associated with this.)

If you want to book a room at the Fess Parker Doubletree, call 1-(877)
to book a room.

You MUST mention you're a member of the 'Santa Barbara 13.1' group! The rate is $219 for us until 3/15. After 3/15, it goes up to $239.


I've located a hotel close to the start of the race that has rooms available. They are NOT setting aside rooms for us, but they do have rooms available! So, this is first come, first serve.

The hotel is Svendsgaard's Lodge. There is no special rate they are extending us, but the rooms are pretty reasonable ($98-$175). They have roughly 20 single rooms available and about 5 double rooms available (the last time I checked).

Call them directly to book a room at 1-800-733-8757. Tell them you are part
of the 'Forsman Group'.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Personal Best

Some people assume I run marathons ALL the time. Given the moniker I've adopted, I get it. But, I only know one way how to tackle a race. I give everything and as anyone who has done this knows, giving everything is not something you can do ALL the time, particularly as one gets older. You have to pick your moments to lay it all on the line. Hence, I've only run '8' marathons.

This approach has paid dividends for every marathon I've done as I have managed a personal best for every one of them. But, as I approached CIM last year, I knew a personal best just wasn't in the cards.

I hadn't done the kind of training I needed for an attempt at a personal best. I knew I was in good shape, but not GREAT shape. What I did know was that I was in shape to run a 2:55 and anything faster than this would be a nice bonus.

Given the different set of expectations I had entering this marathon, I opted for a race day outfit that was a bit different from what I normally wear. I felt wearing something different would in some respects relieve me of any lingering pressure of attempting a personal best.

The other thing that was different from previous marathons was what was rattling around in my head as I toed the line. There was some lingering disappointment, frustration, and anger associated with a number of things that had played out earlier in the year.

Someone once told me I race angry. I don't know if this is necessarily true, but I know I race with a fierce determination that that may be perceived as anger. But, this time around, I was undoubtedly racing with a chip on my shoulder.

The race started and predictably the first couple miles were fast. Not markedly faster than what I had planned for, but fast enough that I had to consciously focus on relaxing and dialing things back.

It was actually more than a bit liberating to be in a space where I had no expectation of a personal best. I found myself enjoying the scenery and appreciating the multitude of spectators along the course for the first few miles.

This 'savoring of the moment' was unique as I typically enter what I can only liken to a 'fugue' state of sorts during all races. I am so dialed into my pacing and how I am feeling, that I lose myself to a certain extent and truly 'become' the act of running.

The savoring of the moment phase was relatively short lived (13.1 miles to be exact). The second half of the marathon would require full engagement. Fortunately, I was right on track with my baseline of 2:55 halfway through the race.

The wind kicked up a notch or two making a cold morning (sub-40) a bit cooler. I tried in vain to draft a bit, but the field had spread out considerably and finding someone to draft off of wasn't a viable option. I was forced to put my head down and endure the bracing wind.

Everything had unfolded thus far without any major hiccups. But, with the marathon (shockingly enough) nothing can be taken for granted. Around mile 18, I became cognizant of a tightening of my right hamstring.

I focused my attention on the right hamstring trying to do an on the fly diagnosis. Was this a cramp? Was the hamstring simply fatigued? Some vague frustration (and fear) set in as I was still 8 miles from the finish line and it wasn't clear if the hamstring was going to worsen.

I wondered 'why' the right hamstring was complaining. Quickly it occurred to me that I had been suffering from plantar fasciitis in the left leg for months and likely had been favoring the right side for months and most certainly was doing the same thing during the marathon.

Struggling to figure out what to do I found myself remembering a conversation I had with Jenny Lightstone (from PSOAS Bodywork) a few years ago when she was working on my foot. She told me I have to be nice to my foot. I needed to talk to my foot. While somewhat laughable at the time, I was desperate.

Thus began some of the most loving pillow talk imaginable between myself and my hamstring. Yes, strange things happen during a marathon. I vividly recall saying (in my mind),

'I know I haven't been good to you. I know I have asked a lot of you. What I can promise you is that I will treat you well once this is over. I will give you a massage. I will give you rest. I will give you whatever YOU need. All I ask is that you stay with me these next few miles. I will not do anything more aggressive than what I am currently doing, but PLEASE just hang around with me for a few more miles.'

The lovefest between myself and my hamstring appeared to work as the tightness didn't become more pronounced. It didn't go away and certainly limited my range of motion, but it didn't become any worse.

Mile 20 approached and rather than feeling like I was hitting the wall, I found myself rallying. For reasons I have never fully understood, I tend to get more psyched up the further I get into the marathon...particularly after mile 20. Each successive mile serves to bolster my confidence...despite whatever physical fatigue I'm feeling. My mile splits after mile 20 back this up.

Mile 21 was a 6:37. Mile 22 was a 6:35. Mile 23 was a 6:32. After completing Mile 23, the fatigue that had been vague/nagging became vociferous and pronounced. The mental fight was underway. Back when I ran in high school, I had this habit of letting out a 'war cry' in the last 1/4 of a race as a way of rallying myself for one last surge, one last sprint, one last gasp. I was desperate for one last second wind, so I let loose a war cry that likely terrified more than a few spectators in the vicinity.

But, it worked. Just as a shark smells blood and falls into a blood lust, I could smell the finish and nothing was going to stand in my way. Mile 24 was a 6:31. Mile 25 was a 6:26. I unloaded the coup de grace in mile 26 with a 5:54. The last .2 miles was at 5:27 pace.

My finish time was 2:53. This was 10 minutes shy of my 'personal best'. It was my 3rd fastest marathon. But, it was the best finish to a race I've ever mustered and on a personal level, it just may have been my best marathon ever.

Against All Odds..

I entered 2009 with nothing but confidence and optimism about my running as I had rounded out 2008 with the fastest marathon of my life (2:43). I was comfortably handling 10 miles/day averaging 6:15-6:30/mile. I was already looking forward to cracking a marathon in the 2:30's (which would require 6:05/mile) later that year.

But, as I often say, you can't take anything for granted. In June, a frighteningly familiar pain reared its ugly head in my left heel. Plantar fasciitis made its presence known. Having endured PF once before in 2006, I knew how bad this could get.

I immediately went on the offensive and sought a myriad of treatments including Active Release Therapy, acupuncture, laser treatment, and even contemplated a ritual exorcism for the demon that had taken up residence in my foot. After several months of treatment, my optimism for a quick recovery began to wane. My hopes for running yet another personal best for the marathon and cracking the 2:30's waned as well.

In late September I found someone who was well acquainted with 'dry needling', a plantar fasciitis treatment that had been quite effective in a study done in Italy. Additionally, this treatment method was cheap ($100 a pop). The treatment was unconventional, somewhat unproven, and markedly painful, but I found myself able to run again on a regular basis a couple weeks after the procedure was performed.

Against all odds, I found myself wondering if running a marathon was still possible. While I had abandoned the idea of running a personal best and finally running a marathon in the 2:30's, there was something inspiring about finding a way to run 26.2 miles despite the months of setbacks I had endured.

I knew my fitness level was still relatively high as I had run 16-17 miles in early October and I had managed to maintain most of my fitness via the painful monotony known only as 'stationary biking'. But, it was late October and my marathon was the first weekend in December. My last long run really needed to be in mid-November. I didn't have much time to work with.

What I undertook the next several weeks in an attempt to 'cram' for a marathon is something I would discourage ANYONE from doing, but sometimes you've got to gamble. Sometimes, you've got to take a risk. It has been taking risks that has enabled me to move my business forward and achieve personal bests. This time around, I just wanted to complete 26.2 risky as it might have been. Finding a way to pull this off became a mission.

On Nov.1, I completed my first long run of this abbreviated training cycle by logging a relatively slow ten miler on the trails near Phoenix Lake. While this long run was slow, I finished feeling like there was more left in the tank.

The next day I started thinking about other things I could do to help my cause independent of any actual training. I knew I wasn't going to be in the best shape of my life on race day, so I tried to drop a few pounds to make things a bit easier for me. I normally hover around 165 and I wanted to get down to 160 (or less).

I started eating salad for breakfast (yes...I know it's weird!). I also stopped having '3' meals/day and grazed throughout the day focusing on fruits, vegetables, yogurt, eggs, lean forms of protein, and steered clear of all things packaged/processed. I would eventually drop to 159..I haven't weighed this much since high school.

On Nov.8, I hit the road in an attempt to complete 13 miles despite a fairly decent hangover resulting from the previous night's 'Scorpio Birthday Party'. Things didn't go terribly smoothly as I promptly sprained my ankle a couple miles into the run. Once again, I broke the rules I always provide my runners and ran through the pain. By the time I finished, I could barely run...let alone walk. But, I had completed 13 miles and once again felt like I had more left in the tank.

Given that I had only recently gotten back into a space where I felt vaguely comfortable running, I was only logging about 30 minutes of running per day in tandem with 30 minutes of stationary biking/spinning. When I say 'vaguely comfortable', this means my heel was still a bit painful. I wasn't terribly concerned about this pain as I knew it wasn't plantar fasciitis, it was residual pain from the trauma associated with the needling I had done earlier in October.

Nov.15 arrived and the plan was to log 18 miles. The ankle was still a bit swollen, but there was no pain. I wasn't focused on anything other than completing the distance. Despite all the challenges and setbacks, I finished 18 miles in just over 2 hours and managed a 6:47/mile pace.

I now found myself at the crossroads. For all marathons I had run prior to this one, my taper had been '3' weeks. But, I had never entered taper without at least one '20' miler under my belt. When I finished 18 I was tired, but I felt I could have mustered a couple more miles if I had to.

My recovery from the 18 miler was relatively quick and as the week following this run unfolded, I started thinking more and more about compromising the 3 week taper and knocking out a 20 miler. This was more about being mentally prepared than physically. I knew my body could handle 20 or miles, but I needed to prove it to myself.

Less than a week removed from running 18 miles, I hit the road for 20 last long run before officially entering taper. Once again, there was no thought given to pace. My goal was simply to complete the distance one way or the other. 2:17 later I completed 20 miles. Once again, I felt like I could have pushed on if I had to.

Taper had arrived. Reconciling myself to something less than an attempt at a personal best was tough for me, but given everything I had endured leading up to completing this 20 miler, simply completing the marathon would in some respects be a 'personal best' no matter what the clock said.

Monday, February 01, 2010


You've logged the miles, you've done the crostraining, you're a few days away from getting your race bib, BUT, do you have everything covered? I've outlined below a 'proposed' race week itinerary that should have you good to go on race day. Read on!


-Identify your race day wardrobe.

Make sure whatever you choose is something you're comfortable running in. Plan for the weather conditions! Take a look at the extended forecast and plan accordingly! You may want to bring a few different options.

Try to make sure your wardrobe includes the 'TOUCHDOWN 13.1' shirt so we can readily identify you on the course! I will be getting QUALITY glamour shots and possibly video footage on race day! Your 13.1 miles of glory will be immortalized forever!

-Nail down your travel plans.

You want to plan on getting to the race start AT LEAST 30-45 minutes in advance of the actual start. Figure out how you're getting to the start of the half marathon NOW! Don't wait until later this week.

Arriving well in advance of the start of your race will give you time to use the restroom, warmup, and make your way to the start. For those driving in on race morning, allow PLENTY of time! It will likely take time to find parking if you're driving over.


-Scout the course.

Check out the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon course info/maps. Given that we've run along the Great Highway and Golden Gate Park a couple times, there's little here that should be terribly unfamiliar.

-Lube if necessary.

Some of you have complained about blisters on your toes/feet and chafing during the course of our training. Well, there's a handy product out there called 'Body Glide' that you can apply to your feet, thighs, underarms, or any other area where you encounter friction based irritation that will help reduce/eliminate this. It may be time to invest in some. Alternatively, you can use Vaseline, but it can be a bit on the greasy side.

Gentlemen, if you have experienced chafing of the nipples (my apologies if this grosses some of you out), stick a band-aid on both nipples and you should be good to go.


-Schedule a sports massage.

Some of you may have some residual soreness/tightness that has been bothering you these past few weeks. Now is the time to be a bit self-indulgent. In addition, to taking an extra day off and/or cutting a workout short, indulge in a nice sports massage to help knock out those last few kinks. I'd recommend scheduling one for Thursday or Friday, ideally.

Once again, PSOAS Massage & Bodywork is giving us 20% off from 1/30-2/10, so take advantage of this great discount and get some work done!

-Nail down race nutrition items.

I introduced you to GUs this season and hopefully you managed to identify the items that work best for you. Remember that you should be consuming one of the aforementioned items approximately every 45-60 minutes during the race to keep yourself performing at a high level.

Water and/or an electrolyte beverage will be provided about every mile or so. Try to coordinate consumption of GUs (or whatever you're using) in conjunction with the water stops. Just a reminder that any product you bring should be washed down with WATER, NOT an electrolyte beverage.


-Join me for the Final, Final Run @ 6:30PM at the Marina Green Monkey Bars! :)

-Focus on complex carbs.

OK, we're a couple days from the race and now is the time to start making some adjustments to your diet to help insure you're properly fueled for race day. Think whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat bagels, organic fruits/vegetables, etc.

Some folks only 'carboload' the day/night before an endurance event, but the reality is that carboloading this late in the game won't give you much bang for the buck. If you start a few days prior, your are insuring that your glycogen stores (primary fuel source) are topped off. This doesn't mean eat carbs EXCLUSIVELY!

But, if your diet normally doesn't include much of the aforementioned, make a conscious effort to include more at this juncture.

-Hydrate properly.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, one way you can identify whether or not you are properly hydrated is by looking at the color/quantity of your urine. In short, 'clear' and 'copious' is what you're looking for, respectively. You should start making a conscious effort in making sure this is what you're seeing in the days leading up to the race.


-Get a good night's sleep.

Given the early start time we have on Sunday and some pre-race nerves, it's not unlikely that you may not get a ton of sleep the night before the race. Ultimately, this isn't a big deal and has not proven to have a significant impact on race day performance by and large.

So, don't sweat it too much. BUT, try to make a conscious effort to get a solid night's sleep on Friday. Make it a quiet evening of quality, complex carbs, rest, and relaxation!


-Eat dinner early.

Given the early start time on Sunday morning-8AM, I'd encourage you to target 5PM or 5:30PM to get your final meal of the day. Again, you probably want to focus on complex carbs for this meal and try to stay away from anything that is spicy or markedly different from anything you would normally eat.

If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, you may want to plan on bringing your own food for this meal.

-Lay out your outfit for race morning.

I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to lay out all the items you need for race morning on a chair or on the floor next to your bed before you go to bed. This includes your shirt, your hat, shorts, shoes, gels, socks, race bib, etc. Have everything laid out so that when you get up in the morning, you won't have to even think about it, you can just put everything on and you're good to go.

-Set your alarm clock, set your alarm on your cell phone, and request a wake up call from a friend or two (if they're willing).

This three pronged approach virtually GUARANTEES you will be up in the morning on time! You should plan on being near the race start area AT LEAST 30-45 MINUTES PRIOR TO START!


-Get your race bib.

If you do not receive your race packet in the mail prior to the race or have some other problem with your registration, come to the will call tent between 6:30 am - 7:45 am race morning. The will call tent is located near the starting line on John F. Kennedy Drive near Stow Lake Drive.

This assumes you did not have your bib mailed to you or your registered late for the event. In this case, your entry/bib will be at will call.


I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to arrive at least 30-45 min. early. This gives you time to warmup, use the bathroom, change clothes, get your race bib (if necessary) and get positioned near the start.

THERE WILL BE NO FORMAL WARMUP PRIOR TO THE RACE. BUT, we will 'informally' congregate at the overpass adjacent to the intersection of JFK/Transverse in Golden Gate Park at 7:15AM and we'll head towards the start at 7:35AM.

I will be running the half marathon in much the same way that I have all of our long runs with one minor wrinkle. I will be going out fast the first couple miles to 'thin the herd' and then I will wait for the first folks to come through to capture some glamour shots and run a mile with them. I will then stop and wait for the next folks to come through.

I will do my level best to catch all of you on race day, but I need your help! There will be over 10,000 people running! If you wear your 'Touchdown 13.1' shirt, you will be making my job MUCH EASIER!

Look for me in a white Nike hat and a white 'Run Whisperer' shirt. I will be looking for all of you for 'glamour shots' with my camera after mile 2!

-Pace Accordingly!

OK, so you're probably going to feel pretty amped when the gun goes off, but please HOLD BACK and PACE ACCORDINGLY! You 'should' have a solid handle at this juncture on what you can maintain for 13.1 miles. Focus on running at your comfortable, conversational pace. There will be mile markers along the course.

If you run 10 min. pace, your watch should reflect roughly 10:00 at the one mile mark, 20:00 at the two mile mark, and so one. RESIST the urge to go out fast. If anything run a bit SLOWER the first few miles (10:10-10:15) and EASE into your comfortable, conversational pace. I want to make sure you have something left in the tank those last few miles!

-Take water/sports drink at every opportunity.

Even if you aren't necessarily feeling thirsty, TAKE IT ANYWAY! Some of you may have heard of 'hyponatremia' which is often associated with taking in too much water. Let me emphasize that 'hyponatremia' is MOST PREVALENT in marathons where elapsed time on the road exceeds 4-5 hours. So, this means that there is virtually zero chance of this being an issue for any of you.

-How to handle water stops/stations on race day-

There will be several of these along the course. Typically, there are several tables laid out. DO NOT GO TO THE FIRST TABLE YOU SEE! Let the other runners slow down and bump into each other to get their water and electrolyte drink. Try to go to the LAST TABLE you see at the water station to avoid slowing down or possibly stumbling. Certainly you can walk through the water stations if you like.

-How to drink water and/or electrolyte drink on the run-

When you get your cup of water or electrolyte drink, pinch the top of the cup closed and fold one of the corners over so you effectively have a small, narrow 'spout'. Pour carefully into your mouth. If you don't want to walk through water stops/stations, this is the best way I know of to drink while running.

-Take a GU every 45-60 minutes.

Make sure you get some simple carbohydrates (GUs or some other form of simple carbs) in your system every 45-60 min. This will help you continue to perform at a high level. Make sure to wash any nutrition product down with WATER not an electrolyte drink.

-Be mentally tough!

You've done the work. You've endured the long runs. You've tapered. You know how to fuel/hydrate properly. Remind yourself of all the hard work and preparation you've done those last few miles when you might be feeling a bit tired. YOU CAN DO THIS!!! YOU ARE READY FOR GLORY!

-Expedite race recovery.

As quickly as possible, get a quality combination of carbohydrates/protein in your system (remember 4 carbs: 1 protein is OPTIMAL for recovery. Chocolate Milk has this ratio.) I'd also encourage you to walk around for a few minutes to help increase circulation and help flush the lactic acid out of your system. If you have a stick or foam roller handy, spend some quality time with it!