Sunday, March 16, 2008

Baywatch, Alaska (or Top o' the Mornin' 5k)-March 2008

You’ll get the title before the end.
I ran in the Top o’ the Mornin’ Fun Run 5k at the Sparks Marina yesterday. Originally the forecast has called for a mostly sunny 29/57, but as the snow hit the valley floor on Saturday, you could pretty much count on another cold one.
For reasons unknown, both my friend Turi & I were both under the impression the race was Saturday. I’d done my easy 4 mile trail loop Friday morning, and was planning on picking up Turi at his house at 7ish the next morning. Luckily for us, my wife’s work brought her out to Sparks, and she went by the rec department to pick up my packet & number, to avoid having to do it race morning. I received an email from her later that day asking "Why did I think the race was Saturday?" "Why wouldn’t you think that?" being my response. Suffice to say we got it figured out. I ran another easy 4 miler (on the same trail which was now covered in fresh snow) on Saturday, eating it about a mile in a bloodying my already fragile right leg…wouldn’t want to run a race even mostly healthy, it may cause the universe to implode!
We showed up to register Turi about an hour before. We ran into Mike Scarborough (who’d be running) & Joerg (who’d be timing). It ended up being about 27 degrees when we got there, and about 30-32 while we raced. The map was a little confusing, and not to scale, so we did a 2 mile warm-up covering the parts of the course we were unsure about. The course went around the Marina (similar to the 2 mile Turley Trot course with a slight change due to construction) and did an additional 1.1 miles in the surrounding neighborhood. I half expected the course would be short, as the old two-mile course was about 1.94, and I turned out to be a regular Nostradamus. I started a little overzealously, and hit the mile mark (actually .90) in 4:35 (= to a 5:07 mile). My goal time was 16:30, which is just a hair under 5:20 per, so I backed off just a little. Around a turn I saw that Mike was in second & a ways back, so I tried to settle into the correct pace to run my goal time. Since the course was a little different than what I’ve run in the past, I didn’t take a 2 mile split (it may have been off anyway), but I still felt I was running close to goal pace. After our lap, we headed into a residential area, and a surprisingly noticeable 1-2% grade for a tenth of a mile or so. After a culd-a-sac turnaround, I was able to make up lost time by heading down that grade. As I hit the roughly quarter mile straightaway, I realized I had a shot at breaking 16:00 (and that my short course prediction would be proven right), so I picked it up to about 5 flat pace for the last 40-50 seconds, and came across the line in 15:54. The course was a very accurate 3.00 miles, just not a 5k…so taking that into account, I still ran 4 seconds under my goal time, with the equivalent of a 16:26. Mike came in next in 18:01, and Turi was 10th across the line in 20:18. Unknown to me until today, my age group was 21-30 instead of the usual 19-29, so Turi and I were in separate age groups. Unknown to both of us was that the gentleman that finished 3 seconds in front of Turi was the 31-40 AG winner! As far as the subject line of this email, as a young, blonde co-worker of Abby’s was finishing, someone from the Bill & Connie radio show (who were emceeing the event) announced "Baywatch Alaska!" as she was dressed more for skiing than a road race. Good stuff.
As to not break tradition (after a yoga class), Turi, Abby & I headed to Silver Peak Brewing Co. for lunch, as we had heard rumors of a limited release Bourbon barrel-aged Stout (and a Belgian wheat wine). I am happy to report that the stout was one of the best beers (of any style) that I’ve ever had, and Silver Peak’s best offering to date!
Overall, I am very encouraged that despite lingering heel & hip issues, that my last 4 races…a 30k, 8k, marathon, and 3 miler, were all about = to each other, which is a little unexpected given the wide range in distance (3-26.2 miles) and pace (5:18-6:11). Next up is the Daffodil 10k, Spring Run 10k, & Salmon Run 11k, before dropping back down in distance. Hopefully I’ll be able to get in a couple long runs, and hills, since I’ve only proven that I can run flat & rolling courses, and things will get hillier starting next month.
Happy running!!!

Monday, March 3, 2008


This is the blog bout the Napa Valley Marathon, where I received pacing help from the aforementioned Beatles-or at least having a few of their songs from “1”, a cd of their #1 hits, stuck in my head for the majority of the 26.2 miles!
There had been less limping since my last rolfing session on Wednesday night, so there was reason to be cautiously optimistic going in. I remember feeling so bad 24 hours before my 8k eight days before Napa, that I’d considered skipping it, and it turned out well, so…
Abby, Hannah, and I drove to Grass Valley Friday night, stayed with her parents, and headed to Napa after doing an easy 4 miler on Brewer Rd. The drive was nice, and the traffic wasn’t bad, especially considering the extra 2,300 that had filled the race.
Personally, I think it’s a mean trick (for a connoisseur of wine & ales) to have those 2 things at a pre-race expo, but it was nice for Abby & the in-laws. While I was picking up my shirt & number, they started the fun. There was one wine in particular that blew all of our socks off (I only had a sip J)-Luna Vineyards Sangiovese. Holy CRAP was it good! The pasta feed was very well done, with 5 pasta choices (I had 4) , 4 different salads, bread, dessert (only one bite, but it was awesome too) and of course, wine. Joe Henderson spoke at our early sitting, while Joan Benoit Samuelson spoke at the late dinner. A+ for the dinner overall. Anyone considering a spring Marathon in 2009 should consider this one as everything from the expo to the finish and after was well done.
I’d made a deal with myself to only buy a bottle of Silver Rose Merlot (my favorite wine from our 2006 Napa Valley Trail Half-Marathon trip) if I were to hit one of my goals (2:45 or top 10). The start of the race was literally in the street to the west of Silver Rose, so I had to overcome the urge to just hang out there till they opened @10.
The day was quite windy, but with any luck, we were going to have more of a tailwind, and that’s how it worked out for the most part. It was a swirling wind, so we probably had 10 miles of tailwind, 3 miles of direct headwind, 7-8 miles of crosswind and a few miles of calm. My goal pace was 6:18, and at the mile mark I’d run a comfortable 6:16-and the leg was feeling ok! I was surprised as the miles went by that the leaders were still in sight (although the field was fairly deep, the winning time was slower than the last few years)…I hit mile 2 & 3 in 6:17 each (18:50 @mile 3). There were two guys who’d picked up the pace and I went with them barley noticing the change (at first). Mile 4 was half downhill, and we got our first real tailwind as well…I think my legs had warmed up by this point, but I was still surprised when we hit mile 4 @20:39 for a 5:49 split. *Side-note: I don’t take splits when I race, I just glance at my watch, so these first few are from memory, but as the race goes on, I try to use my head to do the math and set the goal for the next mile to keep me distracted. After 18:50 I tell myself that 24-24:20 is the goal for the next split, etc…)
After the fast mile, we were hitting rolling hills with a couple noticeable climbs, but our splits remained between 6 flat and 6:20 for several miles, usually around 6:05. The fan support was surprisingly good – the aid stations were every 2-3 miles, and I alternated 2 oz water with 2 oz of Gatorade, with 2 GU packets @12 and 21 miles. Between aid stations there were clumps of people cheering complete with signs, cowbells, etc, that weren’t expected, so it was a nice distraction. The view for most of the race was also great, so finding something to focus on (in addition to “Lady Madonna” & “I Want To Hold Your Hand”) was not hard to do. As the pair I’d been running with began to slowly pull away with 6 flats -I think they ended up 4th and 5th-I either ran solo or briefly played leapfrog with a couple runners. My goal for the half had been sub-1:22, and I hit it side by side with Jonathan Osbourne (OR) at 1:19:forty-something. It was at this point that I realized I was running a slightly faster pace than at Jed Smith 30k a month earlier (6:06 compared to 6:07). Needless to say this made me happy as I was still feeling pretty good-the training miles were paying off!
I ran with Jonathan for several miles. We decided to help each other reach our goals of 2:45 and 2:47, and since we both were under 1:20, I was trying to encourage him by letting him know he could (theoretically) run 6:45’s and still hit his goal. After several miles when we thought we’d slowed, only to still hit 6:05-10, we started to separate. He’d finish 16th, under his goal by well over a minute.
I’d gone from 10th/11th at the start to as high as 6th. I’d hit mile 20 @2:02:00 (6:06), followed by a 6:01 & 6:11 (still @6:06 overall) before turning off the Silverado Trail. I was still feeling so-so at 22, but when we turned we went from crosswind to strong headwind, and I slowed to 6:28 (23 @2:20:40-6:07). The headwind kind of finished me off as I’d been tiring for a few miles while holding pace, but 23-25 was a bit slower as I dropped back to 8th place while hitting hi 6’s for both miles. I was probably at about the same pace til a half mile to go, before picking it up, and then going back under 6:00 pace for the last 0.2. Since there were 8 runners within 3.5 minutes behind me, I’m glad I didn’t hit the wall as I had in November-no miles slower than 6:50, and only 2 of those.
The runner that ended up 7th, 20 seconds in front of me, was in a different age group, so I decided it wasn’t worth the pain to go after him, and I was happy with being under my goal time. I’d finish 8th in 2:42:10 – 6:11 per mile – 2nd in the 30-34 AG, 9-10 minutes off the leader. Photos will probably be up on in the next day or two if anyone is interested (I think I was bib 2271).
The hot soup was nice at the finish, and I’d take advantage of the PT & massage before going back to the hotel to soak…I know heat isn’t always the best idea after a long hard effort, but it sure did feel good! I had plenty of ice as well.
For post-race recovery, we proceeded to go wine tasting at several wineries (5?) by the time we had dinner. I ate and drank water/Ultima throughout the day, so I actually felt quite good considering. I had a pain in the right bridge of my foot from mile 9 on that was a nuisance, but for most of the day I was mobile enough for stairs (both ways). By 9 pm, up was ok, but I had to walk sideways to go down-a tendon in my left knee rolling over the bone didn’t help. I went in the pool before bed to try and regain some range of motion. Monday morning’s “I don’t want to get up but I should really do this run” was an exercise in futility, and I probably looked high or crazy as I shuffled down the street with running form that most resembled a seizure (28 minute 5k), but it served it’s purpose as I was able to go farther and faster today (still easy though). After a couple days off cross-training I hope to resume regular running as the Grand Prix season (and the TRT 50k) loom on the Horizon.
Anyone interested in good wine-Luna Vineyards is on the south end of the Silverado Trail and has taken over as my favorite of the valley.
Sorry this was so long, but it was a marathon after all…
If anyone has any race stories, please share as I enjoy living vicariously through all of you…Peter Lubbers run Lake Tahoe blog is an awesome way to stay in touch and keep motivated for running.
Happy running…see most of you on April 6.