Marathon Life

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon Comeback: Still a lot of work to do

I had every intention to update this blog on my journey to run a marathon for the first time in 7 years. I really should have written an in-depth analysis of each long run I had leading up to the race. I've had a string of injuries and a long-time hamstring injury that now, after 7 years, is "mostly" gone.

On June 1, 2014 I ran my first marathon since June of 2007 at the Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon. Ironically I was returning to the last marathon I ran 7 years previously (and my fastest marathon time posted). It was a long 7 years without marathon running in my life. In 2013 I started to train in late March to try to squeeze in the Rock n Roll Marathon, but after a horrendous 20-mile training run in mid-May, I scrapped my plans to run it. I wasn't ready. I knew it would be a struggle and I knew I would be unhappy with my result. So I just didn't do it and focused on a possible winter 2014 marathon. Then when it came time to train in the fall, I decided to just wait until spring 2014 and I made plans to run RnR in June here in San Diego.

I may not have been ready to run the RnR Marathon this year either. But, I did complete the race, just not in the time I wanted. So here goes. This is my story and analysis of what went wrong and how I can learn from it.

Leading up to this race, I was able to several long runs of 14+ miles. I started tracking my training in January and began doing my long runs on the weekends. I started out with 8 and 9 mile runs by mid-January. By Feb I was up to 10 & 11 milers. In March I really turned the training up with a 14 and 15 mile run. My paces, according to my Nike + on my iPod, said I did those runs at close to 7:00 per mile pace, just under at 6:57 in fact. I never doubted the accuracy of the Nike application. I had calibrated it in February so I thought it was the truth. I felt strong. I felt confident. (FORESHADOWING HERE).

April 5, a 19 mile run at 7:07 pace in the sun. I felt decent. Everything was going my way. I never doubted anything. I felt I could sustain my pacing. I followed that run with an 18.5 mile run on April 12 at 7:09 pace, again in the sun. April 19, a 20-mile run at 7:03 pace. Things were looking up. My goal was to do at least 2 runs at 20+ miles. Ideally I wanted 4 but I didn't want to push it too much. It was my first marathon in 7 years. I wanted to make it to the starting line.

Here are the final long runs I did in the training cycle:
April 26: 14.6 miles at 7:03 pace
May 3: 18.69 miles at 7:09 pace
May 9: 22.1 miles at 7:01 pace (FINAL LONG RUN)
May 17: 17.07 miles at 6:55 pace
May 24: 14.06 miles at 6:50 pace

Based on my training, I felt I had this marathon in the bag. My original goal was to just run anything under 3:10:00, my Boston Marathon qualifying time for a male 35-39 years old. I'm 38 now. I figured that I could easily get under 3:10 but I was really training for a 2:59 (my secret goal) so I would have some cushion should anything go wrong in the race. I felt that if I could hold the paces I had during training, I could go a little faster (6:50 pace) in the race and possibly toy with another sub-3 hour marathon. I have done it twice in my marathon career.

SIDENOTE:  The first time was at the 2006 Boston Marathon where I ran the race of my life and finished at 2:59:07. Then, the next year at the Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon I ran another PR with a 2:57:41 finish. I was on fire those years. Then I got injured in Dec 2007 playing tennis and tearing my right hamstring badly. All bets were off. Off and on PT sessions and I sat 7 years on the sidelines without running another marathon until 2014. I missed the best marathoning years of my life (ages 32-37). 

MARATHON SUNDAY - June 1, 2014

Miles 1-6: I purposely didn't run too fast in those early miles when it's so easy to do so. Everyone is pumped and full of adrenaline. I wanted to stay EXACTLY on a 1:30:00 pace for the first half. I wanted to to have enough juice for the second half. These miles go from Balboa Park up through Hillcrest, down Park Blvd to downtown. Then it crosses through Little Italy (a few inclines). I crossed the 10K split at 42:24 (6:49 pace). Right on target.

Miles 6-13: I kept plugging along. There definitely were some minor hills here and other inclines I didn't expect. Through Little Italy after the 10K I definitely felt these. I also felt like I was sweating a lot more than normal. I was drinking the bottle I had around my waist and grabbed water at the stations every 2 miles.

Around mile 7-8 we entered Mission Hills and another small incline. I decided to take one of the GU gels they were handing out. Just in case. We made our way through Old Town (more inclines), then along Morena Blvd adjacent to Mission Bay Park. I knew the half-way point was along the bike course in Mission Bay Park. So in order to get over there we had to cross a bridge over the 5 freeway around mile 11 that also was a minor hill. I took my Cliff shot bloks here with water. Actually my bottle fell so I had to stop and grab it. My goal was to get to the half marathon by 1:30. I crossed at 1:30:18, 6:53 pace! RIGHT ON PACE!

Miles 14-20: Once I passed mile 14 I knew trying for a sub-3 hour marathon was out of the question. I was already fatigued, but I felt like I had some room to slow and not blow my chances at at least the sub 3:10:00. I kept moving and just focused on staying within distance and keeping a cushion. Miles 17-19 were definitely challenging me. I fought and fought and tried not to slow down. Before we went onto the 163 and faced the MAJOR hill, there was a minor hill in that we had to go across a bridge to get to the other side of the 5 during the last part of mile 19. I didn't like this at all. We were on the freeway now and mile 20 was right in front of me. I crossed mile 20 at 2:21:42, a 7:05 pace overall.

My actual time from crossing the half marathon split to mile 20 was 51:24 (6.89 miles at 7:27 pace). So I did slow down considerably from my first half pace. If I held this pace I would finish at 3:06-3:07 and change. I knew I would lose a few minutes on the hill though. It was going to be close. The sun also came out right as I was getting onto the freeway. Great.

Miles 20-21: I knew going in that the race had this MAJOR hill from mile 20-21. I figured it was less than a mile and I didn't think it was going to be that bad. I even drove on it in the days before since it was on the northbound side of the 163 freeway. It seemed gradual but I really couldn't assess the true nature of it.

I am going to say this now and I honestly believe it's the truth. This was the most difficult hill of ANY race I have EVER run in my ENTIRE LIFE. Period. Having this hill at this stage of a marathon is absolutely INSANE. Since I have run Boston Marathon 4 times, I honestly believe RnR is MORE DIFFICULT. This hill is EXACTLY 1 mile long with no breaks, all incline. There are no areas where the hill levels off and then continues to ascend. On Boston Marathon's Heartbreak Hill, there are areas where you have breaks of flatness. Not on this one.

I tried my hardest to NOT WALK. I made it about 3/4 of the way up and I just felt I needed to walk in order to save myself from collapse. I walked about 30 seconds and then ran the rest of the way up. The hill ended with the on ramp to get to Hillcrest and University Avenue on 10th ave. I had nothing left. As I crossed mile 21, I looked at the clock and determined I needed to run 7:40 pace the rest of the race (5.2 miles) to just squeak by with a sub 3:10:00 and a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Given the state of my body and my mind I knew odds were against me. I tried though.

Miles 22-24: As I crossed mile 22 I looked at the clock and I knew I wasn't going to break 3:10:00. I kept thinking about the 163 hill and how truly devastating it was. I was becoming extremely thirsty since the sun was out in full force now. This isn't how I wanted this marathon to end. At this point I was toying with the idea of walking the rest in. But I still wanted to post a decent time. I just didn't know if it was worth it to kill myself since I knew I wasn't going to finish under 3:10:00. I ended up walking portions of mile 22 and 23. I tried to walk only 20-30 second spurts. I only did this a few times per mile. As we made our way through Morley field, yet another hill. Not fun. Then finally we were on Pershing and I knew mile 24 was at the top of that hill. I decided I would run the rest of the race in (as much as I could). I flew painfully down Pershing and as it flattened out I walked again for 20 seconds. I then forced myself to run.

Miles 25-26.2: My legs were completely shot. It was painful to move. I could barely run but I ran. I just wanted to be done with it. I wanted to eat the pecan roll my good friend Alex promised she would bring to me at the finish line. I felt disappointed that all this training resulted in a sub-par performance. As I made my way down the final stretch I saw the clock read 3:18 something. I ran as hard as I could to stay within the 3:18 minute and finished at 3:18:52. It was my 4th slowest time out of the 11 marathons I have run since 2001. I finished 159th overall out of 5400 runners. Not bad, but I've certainly done better.

Finish line delirium: After I crossed the finish line I bent over to stretch my hamstrings, which felt awful and like I had lead in my blood. I had so much pain in my legs. I actually sat on the ground for a moment to catch my breath. I was not in a good state. I got back up since I was determined to find Alex and Jason who were waiting for me somewhere in the family meeting area. I told them to go to the "B" section and to expect me around 3 hours after the race started. So I was a little off. I then became very lightheaded.

A half marathon finisher girl asked me if I was ok. I could barely answer her. I told her I was dizzy and needed to sit down. I was stumbling as I walked, almost like a drunk, but a medicated drunk. She got someone from the medical tent to come over and I was wheeled into the tent. I was there for the next hour. They gave me Gatorade with added salt (disgusting!!), ice bags and told me to put my feet up on a box whileI laid in the cot. After the dizziness was mostly gone the next task was to be able to stand up. It took me 15 min to be able to do that. I then had to lay back down again and start over again. Finally I decided to leave and try to walk it off. I found Alex and Jason, who were miraculously waiting in the Family Reunion section. The walk out of the finish area to that section felt longer than the actual marathon itself! I bit into the pecan roll (despite not having much of an appetite).

Marathon Post-Mortem: When I looked at my Nike+ tracker on my iPod it said I ran 28 miles instead of 26.2. This meant that all of my runs using that application were inaccurate. This meant that it said I was running faster then I really was. This wasn't good. This wasn't good at all. I was led to believe I was in better shape than I actually was. All those "7:03" paced training runs were actually a lot slower. I have determined the pace was most likely off by at least 20-30 seconds per mile. I can't quite nail it down. Regardless, if I had had an accurate training device, I may have approached the race differently.

I have a few options if I still want to qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Option 1: Run another marathon before registration begins in mid-September for the Boston Marathon. That means I need to run a full marathon in under 3:10:00. I have found one race in Ventura, CA. The Ventura Marathon on Sept 7. The course is relatively flat from what I have read and there should be good coastal fog and cloud cover up there. I would basically start formalized training in late June through Sept. That means an additional 8 weeks of training. I'll probably need to build up to another 20+ mile run, maybe 2. It's a short time span but I am utilizing the training base I already have.

Option 2: Focus on running a marathon in early 2015 to qualify for Boston Marathon in 2016. Since I will be turning 39 in December, that means for the 2016 race I will be 40 (YIKES) but my Boston qualifying time becomes 3:15:00 instead of 3:10:00. Five more valuable minutesI will gain! This seems more realistic.

I am leaning to Option 1. Still undecided. I'm not ready to give up marathons just yet. I have run 6 qualifying times for the Boston Marathon. I still feel I have a few more in me.

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posted by Anthony at 11:42 PM 1 comments

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A painfully slower Father Joe's Thanksgiving 5K

Since my company was paying for yet another race as part of their Wellness program, I decided to sign up for a Thanksgiving day 5K race, the Father Joe's Villages 5K. I was debating if I should run it as I heard it was the same course as the Komen 5K on Nov 3, which I previously wrote about . That was my first official race since 2008. I was relatively happy with my 9th overall finish and 1st in my age division.

This race, however, was a completely different story. When I found out the day before that the course was not the same as Komen and didn't have the steep half mile hill at the end, I was so happy. I figured I could shave off some time from the 19:02 at Komen. Well, it didn't happen. After a fast first mile (5:50?), I struggled in the last half of the race, slowing down considerably and ended with a 19:40 finish. It wasn't all bad news though. The silver lining was that I placed 2nd in the 35-39 age group out of over 100 people in that division. I was 56th overall out of about 2,200 people. You can see my age division results here and overall results here

I realize it's only 38 seconds slower, but that's an eternity in a 5K race. I just didn't feel great from the start. Here's a breakdown of the mistakes I made from the start that affected my performance and how I can learn from it. Looking back on it, I clearly see why I finished slower.

1.  Too much caffeine: I made the mistake of having half of an Americano (made on my awesome new Breville espresso machine) an hour before the race. Normally, I don't like to consume a ton of caffeine before a race, but I figured it would help me get a burst of energy since I was tired from getting up at 6:20am. This plan backfired. The shot was so concentrated, I think it was too much and I didn't realize it.

2. Not enough food: I only ate a single slice of raisin bread instead of my usual cereal with milk. I didn't want to chance it with any dairy and racing hard (stomach issues). I should have stuck with my routine.

3. Lack of hydration. I didn't have enough water with breakfast. I should have had at least 16 oz of water. I had a few sips. I was worried about peeing, but there were porta-potties everywhere. The last race had tons of water at the starting line since the finish was also in the same area. My mouth was a bit dry right before we the start and I was super nervous. I should have brought the water bottle from my car with me, but didn't. So after about a minute of running, my mouth felt like a desert and chalky. It affected my breathing too. It was like I had no saliva in my mouth!! I have never had this happen to me before! It was scary and I started to panic. I was hoping there would be a water table at Mile 1, but I didn't see water until just before Mile 2. Too late.

So those three factors affected my performance in a major way. The course itself was not that bad. At the half mile mark there was a small hill. At 1.5 miles there was a larger, steeper rolling hill, but it was short. It was a relatively flat course that was WAY EASIER than the Komen. Figures

One last thing. Before the Komen race I did 2 "mock" 5Ks on the treadmill in the preceding weeks. This time I only did a few mile repeats on the treadmill at a faster clip, but not at my goal speed. And that was just once on the Monday night before the Thursday am race. I should have done more speed work to get my body acclimated to racing hard.

Now I know. Being out of competitive racing for 5 years has affected how I approach races. I forget the little things that can have a big impact on race day performance. You live and learn. There's always another 5K. I think I may try one in mid-December. We will see how I feel.

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posted by Anthony at 4:58 PM 5 comments

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My First Race in 5 years - Nov 3 Komen 5K

I have abandoned this blog and had no intention to. Due to a string of injuries and a stubborn hamstring injury from Dec 2007, I haven't competed in a marathon since June 2007. I decided that I will try another marathon in 2014, just 7 years later. My hamstring is still an issue, but it's something I can deal with now more efficiently. I got used to the pain and my mind focuses on something else. The scar tissue is there and I feel it when I run.

On Nov 3, I raced my first road race since 2008 at the Susan Komen Race for the Cure. I ended up coming in 9th place overall,1st in the 35-39 age group with a 19:02! Results are here. Granted, this race was more about charity so there were only about 500 "timed" runners. The super fast runners didn't come out for this race so the field was less competitive. Still, I felt given the long layoff from racing, it was a respectable showing. It wasn't my fastest time for a 5K (17:59) but not my slowest.
Photo Credit: Mike Regala Photography. Me at the starting line!

I was extremely nervous since I hadn't competed in a race for so long. The last time I raced it was a glorious day when came in 5th place at the San Diego Camp Pendleton Mud Run in Oct 2008. That was such a long time ago.

I was aiming to run in the 18-19 min range for this 5K since I really didn't know the course or what I was capable or doing. I had been running 25 miles per week or so and thew in some fast workouts on the treadmill. I had done a few "mock" 5Ks to see where I was at so I knew I would be around that time.

Race Breakdown
I ran the first mile way to fast at 5:40. At mile 2 my split was 11:52, which I purposely slowed down. But during the final mile my wheels fell apart due to the half mile hill right at the end. We actually ran onto the 163 freeway and up an exit ramp at the Quince Street exit. That was HORRENDOUS to happen at that stage of a fast race. My legs seized up and I could feel the lactic acid. If that part were flat, I seriously would be at least 45 second faster. The good news is that only 1 person passed me on the hill and that was it. After I finally got to the top of the hill, I saw that there was only about a quarter mile left so I ran as fast as I could. I saw the clock ticking down and wanted to at least break 19:00, but just missed it. My legs and lungs were on fire.

After the race, it took me several hours to breathe properly. With time, I should get used to the faster racing outdoors. I need to get my lungs acclimated to that type of super heavy aerobic activity.

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posted by Anthony at 10:30 AM 1 comments

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Blog from the Past - Sept 11, 2001

On this day, Sept 11, 2011, 10 years from that dreaded day I am posting what I wrote in my now defunct Geocities blog. It was short and sweet. I didn't want to dwell on everything. Here it is below:


Sept 11, 2001 - I guess I'll never forget this.  It was tough to watch it all happen with the World Trade Center crumbling to the earth and the other crashes happening in DC and PA.  I couldn't understand the reasons why.  I'm thankful for my life and am lucky not to have been in NY when it happened.  It scares me since I travel for work from Logan mostly on American Airlines.  I'm scared to take a flight I have to San Francisco on the 22nd.  My friend Molly called me from the west coast because she couldn't remember what date I was leaving.  There are a lot of things I take for granted and this tragedy really put things in perspective for me.  Things could be a lot worse in my life.

As I stated, I was thankful I still had my life and I didn't lose anyone. But so many others did. I remember the day so vividly. After arriving at work, per usual, I brought up Yahoo News as my main page on the browser. At the time, I worked at a company called NewsEdge. They published real-time news and information/articles that would be published and integrated on company's corporate sites and intranets. As a Marketing Coordinator I organized email marketing and trade shows. We did about 10 shows a year and most of them were in NY and on the west coast that year. I was planning for a trip out in San Jose in late Sept so things were pretty busy. I remember seeing a small headline on Yahoo that read, "Plane reported to hit World Trade Center". There was no other information. I went to the kitchen and mentioned to a co-worker how odd it was for a plane to get that close to the towers. I figured it was a small plane and maybe it went through a window or something. He agreed how weird it was that a plane was even that close and we went back to your desks.

Then I turned on the radio and was hearing stuff on NPR about DC and attacks there. I thought it was a joke. It didn't seem real. I didn't really understand the situation and what was happening. More and more news started to come in and then I realized what was happening. I saw the photos online of the first plane crashing into the tower. We had a news room downstairs for the editors who post the real time news. Both towers had fallen. Everyone was in shock.

I remember when the VP of marketing at the time (David Meerman Scott) said, "We have many customers in the World Trade Center who are now dead." The gravity of the situation really hit me at that point. I started to think about all the people I knew in NYC. There was my friend Susan, but she worked at the Whitney Museum in upper Manhattan. Then there was my friend KT. I had no idea where she worked. She was in the financial sector and I thought there was a chance she worked at the WTC, but I got an email from her letting me know she worked in NJ and was safe. Then my friend TJ was a law student. He was ok and actually was a few blocks away. I don't talk to him that often but did get an email response from him that day letting me know he was ok.

I stayed at work late actually when most people were already home glued to their TVs (like my roommates). At NewsEdge David thought we should send an email alert out through our email marketing system to let customers know that there would be a disruption of our news wire services due to the WTC's towers falling. The antennas at the top distributed much of our financial news wires.

When I got home around 7:30pm that evening I decided to go on a run to try to de-stress. I recall listening to Bjork's song "Unison" from her recently released album Vesperine. For some reason the song and some of its lyrics stuck with me. "Let's unite tonight." I thought about all the hate in the world. How the WTC tragedy was a direct result of this hate. The terrorists and the US are not united. I thought about the opposite of this song. How un-united we all are. And now, whenever I hear this song, I think of 9/11.

In the 10 years since this horrible day, many more people have died because of terrorism. So many of our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think about how we have had 2 recessions and now possibly a third. So many people are struggling in this post-9/11 economy and I believe it all stems from that tragic day. The US has spent billions of dollars. What if 9/11 didn't happen? Would the world be different today? Would our economy be different? Would another tragic event have happened in its place? Most likely so.

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posted by Anthony at 8:18 PM 2 comments

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Spoke Too Soon

Nope. I thought that the nightmare of a patio/door repair was done. Well, it is not. It took us a while to do another water test after they came back to properly seal up under the door so water would not come in from the patio. The week after the failed water test, the door subcontractor's workers came back and sealed up underneath the door threshold and also made adjustments to the bottom of the door.

So finally we got around to do another test on Fri, Aug 5. I was fearful that water was still going to come through. My fears become a reality unfortunately. The contractor was not present for the water test, but I ended up taking a video of it which you can see above. We simply used a garden hose and a nozzle with a shower spray setting. I simulated as best as I could a rain storm. I distinctly recall water hitting those doors very hard last winter/spring. So I put it to a level I thought was appropriate. Within minutes water was coming through the middle of the two doors. I immediately called the contractor and also the door contractor he hired (the subcontractor). It turns out the window guy is the one who has to deal with this.

Finally, after constant back and forth with the unit owner, he came today to look at it. He said he has to make some kind of adjustment to it next Monday. I am terrified that water is going to come through again and flood into my ceilings/walls. All those repairs may be wasted, about $9,000 worth. We WILL NOT pay for any damage caused by water coming through those doors!

The contractor is trying to tell us we are doing the water test wrong and that we can't just spray directly into the door. I explained through email that I did not do that. I went side to side as if it were a windy rain storm. He will not be accountable for his error. What other excuse is he going to give us once it rains and water comes through again? How can he possibly blame us for this? I want to PREVENT this from happening by simulating a storm. If he wants to wait until it rains for real to see that his "fix it job" didn't work, then I guess that is all we can do at this point.

We will be doing a THIRD water test after he fixes he. Neither the owner nor me could be there today. He apparently told my neighbor that there is nothing wrong with the door, but he will be back to add something to the bottom of it. Whatever. I am SO DONE with this guy. Regardless of the outcome, I will file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the State Contractors Licensing Board.  I may just do it now.

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posted by Anthony at 10:19 PM 0 comments

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Favourite San Diego Things: Hillcrest Farmer's Market

Thai food at the market
I am starting a new series of posts discussing some of my favourite things to do in San Diego to try to get myself more into blogging about stuff OTHER than my condo owning frustrations and repairs. I will also spell EXACTLY like Canadians using "ou" and "re" as much as possible. I just like that way the words look on the page. They are distinctive. Call me a fool or whatever you want. I will not change! I am HONOURED to do this for all the Canadian-wannabes out there!

So this week we will talk about the Hillcrest Farmer's Market, which happens every single Sunday from 9am to 2pm. It's a huge one that takes up the Hillcrest DMV's parking lot and parts of Normal Street in San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood. It is about 1.75 miles from my condo. I used to live under a km away but I moved to the other side of the University Heights neighbourhood here in San Diego.

This vendor always has a vast selection of humus and tapenade
It's part of my routine to go here every single Sunday that I am in town. I will usually drive 1 miles and park on Cleveland Street and walk over. Sometimes I do walk there, but it takes like 25 min, so for time efficiency I drive the 3 minutes. I always walk around the fruit side first. There are many produce vendors and most of them offer free samples. One in particular offers many samples of oranges, plums, pluots, cherries, raisins and if that's not enough, avacados as well. It's great that you can sample everything before buying it. Pluots are currently in season and are very good. I love the ones that are more tart than sweet.

What else? Well they have great food vendors too. You can get a great selection of humus (see photo above) from this one vendor. They have about 10 different humus flavors including curry, basil. jalapeno, beet and even peanut butter. My favs are beet and curry, peanut butter coming in a close third. There is also a great Thai booth where you can get silver dollar sized coconut mini-pancakes for a very cheap price - 5 for $1. It's great. They also make about 5-6 traditional Thai dishes right on the spot. Another place called Flavors of East Africa has amazing food. It is Kenyan food, but tastes somewhat like Indian, but not as spicy. They have tasty samosas, which are fried or baked triangular shaped savory pastries. You can get them with or without ground beef or chicken inside and also includes spiced onions, peas, carrots, lentils (vegetarian option).

One of the fruit vendors and the many samples
The real deals are in the last 15 minutes of the farmer's market. One particular fruit vendor on the northeast side always has a half off sale starting at 1:45pm. All fruit is half off from $3/lb to $1.50. I usually get the pluots and nectarines during these sales. Their fruit is organic and very sweet.

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posted by Anthony at 11:57 PM 0 comments

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Repairs complete and San Diego Pride

Repairs finally completed!
I sincerely hope that I will never have to deal with water coming into my condo again. The weekend following the failed water test (July 4 weekend) the drywall on the walls and ceilings were put back up. You can see the result on the right. I just need to paint it to match the rest of the living room. The week after the failed test, the door subcontractor's workers came back and sealed up underneath the door threshold and also made adjustments to the bottom of the door. We still need to do another water test and are going to get that done soon. I have written a fair and somewhat negative review of the contractor on Angie's List. We will never hire him again. Sorry but we need someone who is going to do the job right and hire the RIGHT people and monitor the fucking project. So fed up right now. Thankfully, the guy we hired to reflash the kitchen garden windows is great and does the work himself. So if we have any other issues we will hire him.

In terms of running my lower back has been tight and my hamstrings haven't felt that great. More and more I think my marathon days are over. I can't get above 9-10 miles without discomfort. I now cannot run two days in a row without having some kind of leg and back pain. If I run every other day it seems to be more palatable. I think I may do a 5K soon just to see how I can do with the short distances. I have been running 3-4 times a week and pushing the paces a bit. Although I have not tried to run track workouts and actually done interval paces (like paces that I would race at 6:00 min/mile pace or faster). I may try that but I am afraid of injuring myself.

Coming out of the closet!
San Diego Pride was last weekend. It was so much fun. Margaret Cho performed at the festival on Saturday night. I really enjoyed her. There were lots of parties and running around all weekend so I was wiped out and so was J****. There was this cool "closet" door at the festival. I had a lot of fun taking various shots of the people, etc. I didn't get to see Frenchie Davis on Sunday. We were already at the festival and then J**** had to drive back home so the timing didn't work out.

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posted by Anthony at 3:34 PM 1 comments

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Year Later in San Diego

Rain in SoCal (photo credit: Francisco Arcaut)
Yesterday, June 30, was my year anniversary of closing on my condo. I'd have to say my first year of condo ownership has been an exciting and tumultuous ride. There were highs and lows. I have learned a lot, especially since becoming the HOA Board President. Even though it is stressful to deal with repairs and owner concerns/attitudes/drama, I feel this is the best thing for me. I guess it's my way of keeping things in control. I am making sure that things are structurally sound. In the past year we have had repairs to our tile roof, the patio/door above my unit that was causing a leak and all four garden windows in the kitchens (including mine) have been re-flashed due to leaking. The rains were pretty heavy for San Diego standards this past Fall/Winter and we paid the price. Typically it doesn't rain as hard or as often, but for the past year (June 30-July 1, 2011) we received 12.65 inches of rain. I realize that doesn't sound like a lot, but for Southern California standards it is significant, but not excessive. Our average rainfall is 10.77 inches. Some years were as low as 4-6 inches since I have lived here. I remember 2004/2005 we had 20+ inches, which was extremely rare.

June 30 was also the day that I gave my notice at my previous job in Orange County. I was very unhappy living up there so I am so glad that everything happened the way it did. I started a contract job in mid-July, but received a full-time offer at the agency I work for now 2 days into my contract job. It was all meant to be. I am still standing after 1 year and hope to remain in this position for a very long time. It's time Anthony stays at a job for more than 1-2 years. It's time to really THRIVE at my career. So far, I am doing really well. My goal is to be promoted within the next 18 months. I do think it's possible. I tend to not stay around long enough to even be promoted. I enjoy my work now since I no longer have to be stuck in the tech B2B world. I get to work within health care marketing on the B2C side and also do some work within B2B in the construction industry. It's great that I am now expanding my experience within other industry verticals. For so long I was pigeon-holed within the B2B technology/software/hardware market.

Running-wise I am doing ok, but not great. I have been trying to do 4 runs a week with the longest runs around 8-9 miles. This past week I did 9.5 miles and maintained a 7:07 pace, which was decent. I have run faster runs though in training. At my peak in 2007 I was doing 15-20 mile runs around 6:55 pace. My hamstrings still ache and now my lower back is tight. I believe this is due to not sitting correctly at work and hunching over too much. I am trying to work on this and maintain proper posture. I have been able to maintain pace averages from as fast as 6:50-7:15 min/mile pace, which is typical for me. I still worry about how I would perform in a race. I am pondering doing a 5K race in a few weeks during San Diego Pride weekend. I also may do a half marathon in November. I am not ready to do a half marathon in August (America's Finest City Half Marathon). It has sold out so it makes the decision easier for me. In terms of a marathon, I may try to do the Carlsbad Marathon in January, or Long Beach Marathon in Oct. Not sure yet. My body is just not like it used to be. I'm not as resilient.

One last mention about the entire patio/door repair. Last Friday, June 24, we did a water test to make sure the door was installed correctly and that no water would get through. Well, after a few minutes of spraying at the threshold of the door, water leaked through! I couldn't fucking believe it. I was actually really sad. After 7 weeks, I thought this mess was over with. The contractor had no explanation since he wasn't here when his subcontractors installed it. Once again, showing why we should have NEVER hired this guy. He was not involved enough and on site enough to monitor the job and the careless people he hired to do it.

After about 20 min of pressure spraying we determined that the under the threshold of the door there was not enough polyurethane put in, therefore creating a gap where water could leak through. VERY BASIC STUFF! I was outraged that such a careless mistake could be made, especially knowing that was one of the EXACT SAME PROBLEM we had with the previous door. Of course there were other issues like the fact that the door was never installed correctly or flashed correctly to begin with. The other issue we determined with this door is that the area where the bottom of the door meets the threshold, water gets through. So the manufacturer had to be called and after 5 days has finally called us back and are going to come here on Tues, July 5 to fix it. I am also involving the contractor to make sure everything is done correctly. We have a 5 year warranty on the weatherproofing system.

I have already started to have the ceiling and walls repaired, finally, after 6 months of the walls and ceilings of being open. I was waiting for the patio to be complete before starting. I didn't anticipate the water test to go poorly so the work was already scheduled for the day after the test. It's ok since it doesn't rain here in the summers and I KNOW they will be plugging up the leak under the door next week. As you can see from the photo on the left, the drywall has been installed. Now the guy we hired just have to finish with the spray texture this weekend. Then I will prime and paint the area.

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posted by Anthony at 6:56 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 20, 2011

Neighbor's new patio and door photos

Here it is, a completely new patio above mine and the new doors. We are going to do a water test of it this week and finally, this drama will be over. See my previous post here for all the details leading up to it.This is stamped concrete, so it may look like real times, it is not.

Here's another shot.

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posted by Anthony at 12:07 AM 0 comments

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Patio is complete and Boogie boarding at WindnSea

The work began on May 4 and FINALLY we are at the finish line. Several delays caused by my upstairs neighbor's indecisiveness and the contractor not managing the project appropriately have caused an estimated 2-3 week job turn into an almost 7 week job. There is one last step. He needs to paint the stucco they had to redo. Also, we need to do a true water test to make sure nothing leaks in. Then I can finally have the ceilings and walls that have been opened since Dec 23 put back in! Yes, you read correctly. I had a feeling I wouldn't have this resolved until the spring. And now, the summer is days away!

The french doors do look nice and I hope my neighbor thinks they are worth it. He paid for them after all. I did learn a lot from this process. I learned that you need to have patience. You also need to research the contractors that you hire more intensely. Our contractor did a good job, but it was very slow and he was never on site to manage when things went wrong. There were many hiccups on this job and if he was there co communicate with his workers many of the problems we had wouldn't have even happened.

I did pay for a subscription to Angie's List. J**** told me about this contractor rating/review web site and publication since he used it to hire contractors when he lived in Houston. I went to the web site to check it out. I saw that a 1 year membership cost $29. Then a few weeks later I get an email to get 40% off any membership. So I ended up getting a 2 year membership for $23 since I got another 20% off for using PayPal to as the payment method. Not bad!

In non-condo complaining news, Nirit and Elia are here again visiting from Phoenix. It has been 6 months since they were here last at Christmas. That was when my ceiling/wall leak issue started ironically. We went to WindnSea beach yesterday since they are staying at the Holiday Inn up in La Jolla. They could walk to this beach from the hotel!

I brought by boogie boards since that is one of Nirit and I's favorite things to do. Here is a video
you can see of us catching some waves. It was great and kind of scary at the same time. Nirit got pummeled on her second wave. So I taught her to keep the board close to her chest in order to not fall off when catching a wave. She got the hang of it.

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posted by Anthony at 10:19 AM 0 comments

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And the Drama Continues with the Patio

Oh, where should I start with this damn patio/door project? This is a very long post. I just need to document it all for my own sanity. The project began on May 4 on the patio above my unit. They had to basically demolish the patio and re-pour the concrete. The contractor told me he wasn't going to know if the door could be reused until they took it out (a few days into the project). Of course my neighbor DH (not using real name), who owns the unit above mine, said he would like to order French doors instead of a sliding door, if the door needed to be replaced. I told him that the association would only pay up to the $800 price we were quoted for the new door and he would have to cover the difference. He agreed.

Steve, the door subcontractor, told us the sliding door could be reused. So that was good news for our association as that reduced the bid to $8,100 from the original $8,900 price. I told DH that if he still wanted the French doors he would have to cover the entire cost (about $1,500). We also would need to get it approved by the rest of the board. He agreed and the board approved the new door. So I thought everything was fine...

Then mysteriously our laundry room sliding door was broken the next day! One of the double panes of glass broke (see photo to left). Someone must have deliberately done this as it is very difficult to break these types of doors. I asked Steve how much it would be to fix this and he said it would be as much as a new door, around $800. Hmmmm, I was skeptical but he told me that essentially it is the cost for a pane of glass that size, about $600 and then the labor to put it in. I have my suspicions about this and will see if I can get more quotes on just fixing the glass. I have called a few contractors and the same story. These doors are not cheap and basically you need to buy a new one.

Meanwhile, DH said he would be happy to sell his old patio door for $800 that he won't need since he is buying the new French doors. WHAT? He even said he was planning to sell it on Craigslist! I thought the doors were the property of the HOA since it is facing the outside? We previously were told all windows were part of the HOA. That is the exact reason why the HOA is fixing his door and patio. I confirmed with our management company that the HOA does indeed own the door.

I sent DH an email and CC'd everyone to communicate this. Then DH lashes back saying he is very upset that we won't pay him for the old door, considering that we didn't even offer to pay for the new French doors. He said we weren't being "good neighbors" and that when he was on the board tried to be reasonable with everyone's concerns. He said he was reconsidering ordering the French doors now.  I reminded him that it was HIS DECISION to purchase the French doors even though the sliding door was perfectly fine to leave as is. I told him this in an email:

"Our rationale: Why should the HOA pay for a different door for your unit than one that is perfectly acceptable to use? Steve determined that it was fine to reuse, so that was the recommendation, but you decided to buy a completely new door.  A door that was not necessary and you AGREED to pay for the full replacement of it. You took an opportunity to try to reduce your costs for the French doors at the HOA's expense. That is not neighborly at all or reasonable.

We are watching out for the bottom line of the HOA and taking the most cost effective means necessary. That means if you end up choosing not to reuse your door, we will take the existing slider door and use it for the laundry room, saving the association the $800 replacement cost.

If you had decided to not buy a new door we would have had to pay $800 for a new one in the laundry room. Yes, you are correct. But that isn't the situation at hand. The door is the property of the HOA. You have no right to it. We shouldn't be responsible to finance part of your new French doors by paying you back for the HOA's own property.

If Steve had recommended that the existing door needed to be replaced, then we would have had you pay the difference for the French doors. That isn't the case now though."

We ended up having a meeting that night with the full board and DH and it wasn't pretty. He knew he had no case against the HOA. After a rough start, he agreed to let us use the door that was rightfully ours.  He proceeded to state that he was inconvenienced the project started when it did and that he would have preferred it started during his 2 week vacation on May 19. I told him upfront that the contractor was available to start May 4 or he would have taken another job. We had to get him when we did, otherwise, we would have been back to square one, searching for yet another bid. He then threw in that he is paying $500 for dog daycare due to the on-going construction and that the HOA should pay him for this inconvenience!! Then, the other board members blew up at him. I told him it's not the HOA's issue that he has to bring his dog to daycare. The other board member said "Oh, do you want to pay me because I was trying to sleep on my vacation during the construction noise?" He said that DH should have spoken up about the start date and I agree.

If DH had told me that he was going to have to pay for dog daycare and that was the reason why he wanted to start the project on his vacation, then I would have asked the contractor to move the date (if he even could). It doesn't matter. DH was just trying again to recoup money from the HOA. Pardon my French but FUCK THAT.

One other item was how the patio was going to be finished. We originally agreed it would be a standard finish to match the other patios. DH had tiles on top of his patio before the demolition. He said he called the HOA mgmt company and asked if he is allowed to have the tiles put back on. Our rep apparently told him he could even though at the last HOA meeting in March he agreed he would not put tiles back on the patio once they are taken off since that was a contributing factor to the water leak. It wasn't the main factor, but the contractors agreed that the tiles certainly didn't help with proper water drainage. Also, he supposedly did not use a licensed contractor to put the tiles on. He used his dad, according to the other board members.

In the end we agreed DH could get a custom concrete finish that is nicer than the standard gray. He can get spray texture or stamp concrete up until a certain budget that I worked out with the contractor. I just wanted to guarantee that he would not put tiles on there again. I need to look out for the overall HOA budget and my own property. Considering I have not had ceilings and walls near my patio doors since Dec 27, 2010, I DO NOT want a water leak every to happen again in my ceilings and walls.

The project should be complete within a week or so. They will get the door next week and do the final finish to the concrete. Supposedly one of the workers asked DH for guidance as to where to cut inside of his unit since they have to replace a sub-floor board due to all the water that came in and rotted a portion of it. They will have to dig up the floor and then replace a portion of it. Another big job but it was included in the contract price. Under no circumstances should a construction worker ask anyone but the lead contractor what to do. They have the specs. They should know what to do. They should NEVER take any guidance us.

This was the email I sent to the contractor to document my concerns:

Last night DH told me that one of your workers (Francisco?) asked him for guidance as to how far he should cut into the floor on the inside. This was detailed in our contract that you would "remove 2 feet of sub floor INSIDE the unit to replace a 2 foot by 6 foot section of 3/4 inch plywood due to having a rotted area which was inspected from the unit below."

I noticed only a 3 inch by 3-4 feet section of wood was placed there yesterday.

Francisco also had trouble putting the door back in temporarily and had to cut into the already finished waterproofing. He said to DH,  "I hate to do this but it's the only way to get the door in." He then was going to cut into part of the door and Eric told him to stop and called me. I told DH to call Steve or you, or that Francisco should be calling you directly. I called Steve and he confirmed with me everything was under control with the door.

He also asked DH to get 2x4s and plastic to set up for today's work inside.

This is not acceptable. We should not be advising or directing any workers on this job. As the contractor we expect you to supervise your subcontractors and workers and have them make the right decisions to keep the job moving forward. We expect you to be more available and on site to manage the process properly.

I expect that the waterproofing is redone or fixed. If Francisco cut into it, then it has to be redone. We cannot take any shortcuts, especially on the waterproofing. If it was compromised in any way, then we are at risk for leaks in the future.

Next steps:

DH is placing the order for the French doors today with Steve. He is also meeting with Jason today to review the finish options for the patio (spray texture or stamp concrete). As a board we authorized this either method at our capped price point to advised you earlier.
The patio work will continue with flashing, sealant, etc until the door comes in next week. You will call DH and confirm anything that happened last night and find out from Francisco what was "cut". You will take care of the inside and mark the area that needs to be cut into to replace the subfloor. This will be done next week as well.
The contractor and I discussed this. I guess there were issues with getting the door back into place temporarily and some of the flashing that was installed was damaged. They are going to re-do this work. I just wanted to make sure no shortcuts were taken. It was all in the email and documented. After watching several HGTV shows about construction mistakes, horrific contractors who scam people, I didn't want to take any chances should we have to take legal action in the future.
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posted by Anthony at 8:38 PM 2 comments

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Roof repairs complete, patio repair and a TV blog

Just a short update since I have neglected the blog. I am thinking of starting another blog entirely, all about TV. I am working on a name for it and I will purchase a domain name so there is not ".blogspot" in the URL. It's a work in progress. I will have to really be dedicated to blogging if this TV blog is going to work out. I think I can commit the time and energy since I certainly watch enough TV. I not ashamed to admit I love watching TV. There is so much stigma sometimes. People don’t want to openly admit they watch TV or even certain shows. I have no shame. I embrace pop culture and it makes me happy. Just like some of my friends enjoy binge eating to make them happy, I enjoy TV! There, I said it! 

So back to the roof. The repairs started April 14 and they were completed April 22. Total cost: $7,895. I had to call the project manager a few times to make sure they repaired all areas that I specified. As it turned out, if I did not call, they would have missed an entire section! You have to have trust. I cannot get up on the roof with them to make sure they are doing the repairs correctly.  Well, my neighbor and I got on the roof to look at everything this past weekend. It was very scary getting up there. Going up the ladder was terrifying. My legs were wobbly and my heard was racing. One false move and I would have been dead. That is no joke. There is no easy way to get up there and this ladder did not feel secure. 

The re-done patio and door repair will cost $8,855 total. We now may need to completely replace the sliding door. A door and window specialist who came with a contractor said this was the worst case scenario. It's going to be a big hit to our reserves but the condo management company who handles our finances said that we do not need to do a special assessment since we will still have enough minimum reserves left. 

Of course we still need to pay out of the reserves for all of the walls and ceilings that need to be put back in. I will be so happy once it is all complete. I am so paranoid about the patio not being waterproofed correctly, but we are getting a 5-year warranty. I trust this contractor since he was referred by a trusted contractor of the condo management company. So we shall see. It's a shame all these repairs are happening now. If the board had kept up with things and were sensible and didn't take shortcuts, we wouldn't be in this situation now. 

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posted by Anthony at 11:51 PM 2 comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Almost there (quick update)

The roof repairs are supposed to start tomorrow (April 13). I hope they do show up. They were supposed to start two days ago. Also, the roofers did put in a bid for the patio REPLACEMENT that was only $3500, compared to the other contractor who quoted $7800, over double the price. Yes, you read correctly. They will have to replace the patio and re-flash the sliding door, take it out, put it back in, etc, etc. It's a big job. They will have to take out all the concrete and even the plywood underneath it. Then after that job is done I can finally have my ceilings and walls put back in. I hope this all happens within the next month. I cant believe my walls and ceilings have been opened up since late December. I had a feeling back then that this was going to last well into the Spring and I was correct.
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posted by Anthony at 11:45 PM 1 comments

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Covered Patio

As promised, here is the photo of the patio above mine that we have completely tarped off. We nailed it into the wood below the gutter and then pulled it all the way over. Since the only tarp I had was 8 ft x 10 ft, it was not going to be long enough, so I went down to Lowe's to get a 12 ft x 16 ft tarp. It is so much better. It rained last night and I had no issues! I am so glad I don't have to be paranoid anymore when it rains. Hopefully in the next month everything will be fixed. I doubt it, but one can hope. I think the patio fix and waterproofing/re-flashing of the door is going to be a very labor intensive project and it may take a while. I am scared to get the bid from the contractors on this one. Although our association has plenty of reserves, we will be taking big chunks out of it. The roof repairs alone will be $8,000 (possibly more). I can imagine this project would cost at least $2,000 to $3,000 but I really have no idea. I may have to call for a special assessment to recoup some of our funds, which I can only do once per year. The other board members will have to agree and then all 11 unit owners would pay a special fee. In the end I hope we won't have to do this, but if this condo building continues to have major issues, we may have no choice.

It bothers me that the developers of the condo are no longer in business. We would have been able to have them fix all these issues. I am sure we would have had a legal battle though. Like so many developers during the height of the housing market, the developers went under. They took many short cuts during the update of this building in 2005. It is very obvious. Things could be worse and at least we are taking care of things now.
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posted by Anthony at 9:21 AM 2 comments

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