Blog Archives

January 24, 2012

Musings on Winter Marathon Training

Follow James’s day-to-day training on his Twitter and Facebook pages and read more of James and his exercise regimen at Chatelaine.
By, James Fell
See that picture on the left? That’s me running in -27ºC. I posted the pic to my Facebook fan page and the general consensus revealed in the comments is that I’m bat crap crazy!

I’m not though. At least, I don’t feel crazy. I suppose most crazy people don’t feel crazy, however.

Whatever, I just think of myself as motivated, and with good reason. First off, this is me walking the talk. In terms of talk, I have this article to live up to. Another part is the Theory of Planned Behaviour. I wrote this article for my Los Angeles Times column that explains how registering for a race can motivate you to train for it. Well, I’ve registered for the Honda LA Marathon this March 18th, so even if it’s hideously below zero, I need to get out there and train for it.

There is also the fact that I’ve gone public. This is called “extrinsic motivation.” What it means is: I’ve told you, my LA Times readers, and a bunch of friends that I’m running this marathon. My race time and story is going to be public knowledge for a few hundred thousand readers. Tell me that wouldn’t motivate you to train for a good time.

I’ll add a caveat here. I’m still experiencing some odd foot issues after torquing it on the pedal while riding my bike a few weeks ago. It has been somewhat interfering with my training, but fingers and other body parts are crossed that I’ll be able to recover soon. I’m taking rehabilitative steps.

Now, about this hideously cold run. It wasn’t bad at all for a couple of reasons. I’ve done this before, so I’m confident in my abilities, and I’ve got the gear. I know exactly what I need to wear to stay comfortable at that temperature.

It had been a while since I’d run in weather that cold and I forgot that you don’t want to wear sunglasses in such temperatures. One reason is that the metal frame conducts cold and will freeze the bridge of your nose, and the other is that within two minutes they fog up and you can’t see a damn thing. As a result, I whacked my head on a low-hanging branch and said, “To hell with the sunglasses!” I jammed them in a pocket next to my mylar space blanket that I take in case I fall and break something to prevent freezing to death before help arrives. And yes, I had my iPhone too. That’s how I took the picture.

Speaking of that photo, notice the frosty eyelashes? That was actually a good thing. I couldn’t wear sunglasses, but the frost coating did an amazing job of cutting out the sun’s glare. Excuse me if I think that’s cool.

January 23, 2012

Finally finding relief to knee injury, even without MRI

Follow Rachel’s day-to-day training on her twitter and facebook pages and read more of Rachel’s marathon experience every other Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

By Rachel Luna, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/21/2012 06:13:54 AM PST

I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that I pretty much got brushed off by my insurance company when I wanted an MRI to diagnosis my knee.

The alternative (and by alternative, I mean cheapskate) plan was to throw me into physical therapy for a few weeks before reevaluating my injury to decide whether it was worth putting out the money for the MRI test.

If I were a professional athlete, the scenario would be a different story.

For one, I would have gotten an MRI on the same day I tweaked my knee – more than a month ago.

And who knows, maybe the scenario might have come along with some new groundbreaking medical treatment I could have been the first to try successfully.

But I’m obviously not a pro athlete, just a regular person.

And the last time I checked I didn’t see a medical express lane, so I’ve taken a service number and I’m waiting to be called.

Despite the runaround, I’ve managed to stay positive about my situation, and I’m definitely not out of the Honda L.A. Marathon yet.

I’m not a quitter – I’ve never been. I never will be.

And with my determination to remain optimistic, I’ve traded my training schedule for physical therapy sessions.

For nearly three weeks I’ve been going to therapy sessions twice a week. The hour treatment starts off with muscle stimulation therapy on my knee for 20 minutes, followed by ultrasound heat therapy and ending with several stretching and muscle strengthening exercises.

The therapy sessions are working so far. I have my good days and bad days with my left knee, but overall the recovery process is moving along steadily.

And finally, Jan. 18, I got an accurate diagnosis – without an MRI. According to my physical therapist, Patellar Tendonitis is the likely problem.

The discovery came after he examined my knee and realized I have a stiff knee.

Apparently, if you shift your knee cap towards the outside of your leg, it should be able to be flexible enough to move it over. Turns out that isn’t the case with my knee. My tendons are tight around the outside of my left knee, and they aren’t allowing it to budge much at all in that direction.

The discovery makes sense to me since I was twisting to my left when I got injured.

So now the specialized treatment begins. And oh man does it hurt!

I’ve really had to resist my natural instinct to slug my physical therapist – in a good way – as he’s doing treatment to loosen those stubborn tendons.

During last Friday’s treatment, I experienced the worst therapy pain I’ve had since I started going to physical therapy, but it’s been the most relief I’ve felt in my knee to date.

I appreciate all the treatment my physical therapist is doing since it’s now getting me closer to lacing up my running shoes again.

Another six to eight treatment sessions should do the trick, hopefully.

So I’ll be tough and endure all the pain.

January 12, 2012

Marathons and marriage

Follow James’s day-to-day training on his Twitter and Facebook pages and read more of James and his exercise regimen at Chatelaine.
By, James Fell

I’m finally going to do it. I’ve registered to run my first ever marathon in Los Angeles this coming March 18. Of course, I needed to discuss this with my wife first.

To begin, this trip is going to cost about a thousand bucks, and I never spend more than a hundred without talking to my wife about it first. (Good thing that for me the whole trip is tax deductible.) But there is also the time issue.

When it comes to physical activity coupled with family life, tag-team parenting is essential. Two years ago, the six months leading up to my wife getting her black belt in karate were brutal for her. She was going hardcore all the time and it ate up a lot of her free time. She had this whole eye of the tiger thing going on where she was intensely focused on achieving her goal. She also had bruises over the rippling muscles. It was…kind of sexy.

I was a workout widow during this time. A lot of extra family duties fell on me because she was doing so much training. It also cost quite a bit of money to pay for the extra training. I didn’t mind at all because I knew this was something really important to her.

I’m not saying it’s payback time. Good marriages are about give and take, it just happens to be my turn to take, and for the next couple of months I’ll be dedicating extra time to longer runs and my wife is going to have to pick up the family slack. She’ll also be single parenting for the three days I’m down in LA for the race.

She’s okay with this because she knows how important it is for me, and because we talked about it beforehand. I didn’t just make the decision to do this on my own. She was a part of the whole decision-making process like I was for her when she was working so hard for her black belt.

So, the simple message is: when you’re married running a marathon is a team effort. There is someone who is going to need to pick up your slack, so make sure they’re on board. You need to communicate desires clearly and make sure your significant other has your back.

There is a limit, however.

I’ve got quite a few items on my exercise bucket list and running a marathon is only one of them. In the next few years I want to finish an Ironman triathlon, which is a 3.86K swim, followed by a 180K cycle, THEN followed by running a marathon. It makes marathon training seem like 5K training. Also, I’m going to need to spend a couple thousand on a new bike and I’ll need swimming lessons. Right now I suck at swimming.

I know this is going to be a major imposition on my wife, which is why I’ll only ever do it once (so long as I finish the race within the required 17 hours). I was talking to someone whose best friend’s husband was training for his eighth Ironman, and her friend was getting mighty sick of it. She felt like she was barely married to this guy anymore because he was always out training.

Yes, for six months when I do that Ironman training my wife is going to have to do a lot of extra work to cover for me. But I will make her this promise: As long as I finish in 16:59:59 or better, I’ll never do another.

And I’ll pay you back when you go for that second-degree black belt.

January 11, 2012

Injury Setback Causes Dismay

Follow Rachel’s day-to-day training on her twitter and facebook pages and read more of Rachel’s marathon experience every other Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

By Rachel Luna, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/03/2012 03:55:01 PM PST

Three weeks ago I injured my knee, which consequently brought my marathon training to a halt. A simple twisting movement temporarily landed me on the disabled list.

I thought the most frustrating part about the mishap was the fact it occurred while doing an every-day thing and not while running.

But the frustration of the injury is small potatoes – and something I’m OK with now – compared to dealing with the annoyance of trying to get an MRI and medical answers about what the heck I did to my knee.

It’s killin’ me.

I went to see a doctor four days after I hurt my knee on Dec. 10, and it wasn’t until this past Thursday when I saw a physical therapist.

Phone calls and visits to the medical office didn’t seem to speed up the paperwork. And neither did letting them know I’m in the middle of training for a marathon.

I guess I’ll have to deal with the system until I’ve jumped through enough hoops.

And I’m still currently waiting to get an MRI so I can get the actual results of my injury.

An initial examination during my first visit led the doctor to suspect a torn meniscus or torn ligament. I got some Ace bandage and crutches out of that visit. The crutches didn’t last more than a week before they got tossed aside. I didn’t expect much out of my first appointment other than to get the process going for an MRI. What a disappointment.

But after getting evaluated by a physical therapist, the extent of my injury got downgraded to possible ligament or meniscus strain.

That was good news and I thought, “Good, I got the evaluation out of the way. Now I can get scheduled for an MRI.”


Even after all the wait, there’s still more hoops ahead in the form of six pre-prescribed physical therapy treatments that came along with the visit to the specialist.

Gee. I should at least get a sticker or, better yet, a lollipop for all of the hoop hoppin’ I’m doing … with one good leg, might I add.

It’s been a letdown, but I really appreciate my physical therapist’s attempt to improve the situation, starting with having me do only three therapy sessions before putting in an urgent request for an MRI instead of waiting to see how my knee reacts after all six treatments.

I got one treatment out of the way during my physical therapy evaluation and I have two treatment appointments scheduled for this week.

At that point, I’ll have to rely on the paperwork processing. Again. Hopefully I won’t have too many more obstacles to face.

I might have to buy some Air Jordans just in case ’cause Lord knows I’ll need all the height I can get if I gotta jump through anymore hoops.

January 10, 2012

Team with heart training for marathon

Check out the following LA Daily News story on one of our 2012 Honda LA Marathon Official Charities, ARC.    

If you’re looking for the longest shot in the field at this year’s Los Angeles L.A. Marathon in March you’ll find it working out three days a week at the track in Beeman Park in Studio City.

Team ARC, it’s called. The team with the slowest times, longest odds and biggest hearts.

The team that won’t quit no matter how tough and painful it gets out there running and walking 26.2 miles.

Team ARC’s carrying the reputations and dreams of too many kids and adults like them on their shoulders to fail.

Kids born with severe mental and physical disabilities who have been told their entire lives to go play with your own, you’re not good enough to play – to compete – with us.

Yeah? Sez who?

“C’mon, old men, let’s go,” 25-year-old Angela Armenta yells, jogging onto the track at Beeman Park late Thursday afternoon for a team workout.

The young woman born with Down syndrome is laughing and rubbing it in a little because her teammates – the old men – have two L.A. Marathons already under their belts and she’s the rookie.

When Jennifer Davis, activities director for ARC – Activities for Retarded Children – asked Ralph Adame, 48, and his buddy Tim Sathre, 42, what they thought of a girl joining them for the marathon this year they said sure, why not?

“The guys have been so encouraging to her,” Davis says. “They’ve been pushing and inspiring each other. People don’t realize how important health and wellness is for the disabled community, too.”

We realize it. We just don’t pay much attention to it. That’s why national organizations like Special Olympics are so important to remind us what the physically challenged community is capable of.

Anything, if you give them a chance.

ARC’s always been one of my favorite nonprofits in the Valley because it has one of those back stories that make you want to stand up and cheer for them.

It was started in the late 1960s by a small group of local mothers whose children were retarded. Harsh term, but that’s what it was called back then.

They’d meet in a little park every Saturday to let their kids play together because nobody else’s kids seemed to want to play with them.

The mothers made a pact to watch over and protect each other’s “retarded” kids, and they have. Most of the original mothers have passed on, but their kids have stayed together – keeping the old ARC name because if it was good enough for their mothers, it’s good enough for them.

Ralph was born with brain damage. Tim was diagnosed as having mild retardation with autistic and Asperger’s tendencies.

Angela, born with Down syndrome, has two older brothers, a younger sister and two great parents who love her deeply and include her in all the social activities and sports the family enjoys.

Last September they asked Angela if she’d like to join Team ARC and start training for the L.A. Marathon? Angela gave it a couple of seconds’ thought before making up her mind.

“I do it,” she said, smiling. “I do it.”

So here she is on a late Thursday afternoon in early January with a couple of 5K’s and one 10K already under her belt – pushing her older, male teammates and one new member, Antoinette Mendoza, 42, to pick up the pace.

The Los Angeles Marathon is coming up in a couple of months and Team ARC – the longest shot with the biggest heart in the field – has to be ready.

They’re representing a couple of thousand kids and young adults in the Valley just like them – labeled since birth.

No way Team ARC is going to let them down.

If you want to support Angela and Team ARC, more information is available online at

January 3, 2012

New year a chance to make good on your goals in life

C.J. Lin, staff writer at the L.A. Daily News is training for her first marathon, the Honda LA Marathon.  You can follow C.J.’s day-to-day progress on her twitter page and watch for her stories in the Los Angeles Daily News.

By C.J. Lin, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/01/2012 01:00:00 AM PST

Part of an occasional series about a novice runner training for the 2012 L.A. Marathon.

A year ago, Zia Hotaki was smoking a pack a week. The farthest he had ever run was a mile, and that was in high school.

A year ago, Danielle Hummel ran a 5K on New Year’s Eve and hated every minute of it. She just couldn’t understand why people liked running. She had signed up for several races and always quit.

Fast forward to today, the first of the new year, and Hotaki has quit smoking and is on his way toward becoming a world-class runner and a triathlete. Hummel already has three races – that she actually enjoyed – under her belt just since October.

The two are training for the L.A. Marathon, and on top of that, are about to tackle pretty serious undertakings: their 2012 New Year’s resolutions.

Starting today, Hummel, 27, is going to work on becoming a United States Running Streak Association member. Which means that for every single day of 2012 she’ll have to run at least one mile, even if she’s sick, injured or feeling lazy. Otherwise, she’ll have to start the streak all over again, and make sure she keeps it up for 365 consecutive days. (She can actually stop on Dec. 30, because it’s a leap year.)

Becoming a member is based on the honor system. Runners don’t get anything but bragging rights upon becoming a member. But even so, Hummel is pretty determined not to cheat.

“I feel like if you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself,” said Hummel, 27, of Burbank. “So I plan to stick with it.”

And then there’s her other resolution – doing a race every single month, including the L.A. Marathon in March.

I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

But Hummel, an art director for an automotive design firm, has been pretty tireless in keeping her 2011 resolution, which was to live the healthiest year of her life.

She did, and this year’s resolution is an expansion of that.

And like Hummel, Hotaki is the healthiest he’s ever been.

The 27-year-old computer security engineer had been weightlifting and felt like he had peaked. At the same time, he quit smoking after about four years for his wife, and needed another stress reliever.

So he began running, and for the first three months, it was hell.

But he kept pushing, and something clicked. And now he’s in the fastest pace group with the L.A. Roadrunners training group in Westlake Village, hoping to finish the L.A. Marathon in less than 3 hours and 30 minutes.

His resolution?

To run the Boston Marathon in April 2013.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s not something that anyone can sign up for, like here in L.A. Boston is the world’s oldest marathon, one of the best-known racing events and a hallowed course for serious runners, who must first qualify at other marathons before being allowed to sign up.

“It’s pretty much like if there was a world championship of running, Boston would be it,” said Hotaki of Woodland Hills.

For Hotaki, he’ll have to run a marathon in less than 3 hours and 5 minutes, which means finishing each mile at a 7:05 minute pace or better. And so he’s going to train for and then hope to beat that time during the Long Beach Marathon in October.

“It’s a good motivating factor to keep on not smoking,” Hotaki said. “It would make all my efforts right now all for naught if I started smoking again. Running is definitely a much bigger passion in my life now rather than smoking.”

And he’s also hoping to get into good enough shape to compete in the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Hawaii in 2013, where he’ll have to first qualify. If he does, he’ll have to swim 2.4 miles in the ocean, bike 115 miles and run 26 miles.

In comparison, my resolution seems measly. But I’m OK with that.

With the injury, the holidays, working overtime and it being colder and getting dark earlier, I had all but given up on training for the last of 2011.

So starting today, I’m going to get serious about training and wake up early if I have to. I just want to finish the L.A. Marathon, even if I’m whining and crawling to the finish line.

I should run with Morgan Lieberman, a 16-year-old soccer player from Calabasas High School also training for the marathon.

“My New Year’s resolution is to be able to find strength and motivation with the people around me,” Morgan said. “When I run, I feel invincible being part of a pack, and hopefully when I run the marathon I can give off positive energy to other people, and they can help me along the way, too.”

I’ll need all the help I can get with my resolution.

But I’m looking on the bright side – this is one resolution that I’ll only have to keep for another 78 days.

SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2015