Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nevada City Spring Run

Once again, I travelled to a race sans wife and child, as they were attending a wedding in Phoenix. I even stayed the night before at the in-laws’ house without the in-laws. Weird. My friend Aaron & the dogs joined me again, as he did for the Almond Blossom 8k in February. He may race one day, as soon as he kicks that pesky chain–smoking habit he’s developed.
As some of you know this is probably my least favorite course on the Grand Prix circuit. Both the 5k & 10k are two of the harder ones of the series. The start/finish is the same for both, but where the 5k splits off (and is mostly flat to the turn), the 10k continues to drop in elevation…which is nice ‘til one remembers it’s an out-and-back course, so all net losses in elevation will take their toll later (about 1,800 feet if I remember correctly). I did not run this race last April as I was too busy destroying my lower body at the Escape from Prison Hill relay with Turi & Amber, and I’d run the 5k last May at the AnimalSave run. I remembered the course enough from running the 2006 10k in just over 38 minutes (a few weeks after running 35 flat in Carson City!). What I did not remember as well were the significant portions (60%+) that would be classified as off road…gravel on hard pack, as opposed to faster road…and that their was a couple sections on the way down that were a little slower than remembered. The start was narrow, as usual, so I took off quickly for position before having to slam on the brakes a bit to make the first turn without going off the side of the road. The miles went by a little slower than planned after running the first down-hill mile in 5:06-07. I was feeling a little weaker during the descent than I had while running a downhill/uphill treadmill 10k on Tuesday (16:12/18:30-34:42), probably due to frequent Montezuma’s Revenge during the previous night and week. FUN!
I’m hoping if I can get a better handle on increasingly frequent GI issues, I will be stronger in training and consequently during races. About half way down I knew I would be slower than my "A" goal of 16:30’s, but was still able to hit the turn with a good lead in 16:59-17:00. As usual it had started to warm on the return trip. The frustrating part about miles 3.5-5.5 was that while there were a few sections where one could speed up as the grade lessened, you were so taxed from climbing, that you’d use those stretches to maintain pace and let the heart rate stabilize…at least that’s how it worked for me the past two races here. I don’t have a split from mile 5, but I’d have had to run faster than was realistic to hit 35. I ran cautiously ‘til I hit the 6 mile mark, and then kicked up the last steep hill to the finish in 35:50-one minute slower than my time from the Daffodil 10k on 4-6, but more than 2 minutes faster than 2006. I was also well off the course record (in the 33:40 range by a 2:19 marathoner in 1993). The interesting part about this race was that while myself, Austin, Neal, and many others added a minute or more to our Daffodil times, those who are obviously the best climbers ran close to, or matched their times from Daffodil, and therefore moved up in the standings. Greg Ngo moved up from 3rd to 2nd, and Peter Lubbers 4th to 3rd (and only added 2 seconds!). Larry Defeyter once again won the 5k in (I believe) 18:31, while countless others ran well on this slow, hilly course. Sean & Hayes, two of my future teammates in the upcoming Tahoe Relay, moved up from their usual 5k’s, and both tackled the 10k course successfully.
Aaron & I enjoyed lunch at the Sacramento Brewing Company before heading back to Reno.
Unfortunately for me, between the race and the tummy issues, I ran my shortest run of 2008 on Sunday (3.7 miles), before skipping today’s workout completely. Hopefully tomorrow will be back to normal.
Congrats to everyone who ran on Saturday. See you at the Salmon Run on May 10.
here's the link to Steve's article in the Union...

Monday, April 7, 2008

American River 50 & Daffodil 10k

What a fun weekend that was! I don’t get to watch many races, so seeing some stud runners finishing a 50-miler with an uphill finish was downright inspiring. I was dropped in Auburn on Saturday (while the wife went shopping…scary). I was there to see Nick Bingham (Reno) & Erik Dube (from CSU Stanislaus) finish. Nick was attempting to qualify for Western States by placing in the top 3, and two other Reno runners (Fred Zalokar & Jeff Huxhold) had pacing duties for the second half. Nick would fall short of his goal, but still run well enough to finish 14th in 6:40. I volunteered myself to run up the last hill with him and Jeff, and was amazed that he was still able to run…although the last hill was short, it was steep, warm, and 49.8 miles into a run! Erik had a rough time out there, but I doubt it ever crosses his mind to call it in, and he battled to the finish in 8:14, well off his goal, but still... I doubt I have the mental or physical fortitude of either of these two guys, as it would be soooo easy to just pack it in on an off day…so hats off to both of you! Anyone who chooses to run an uphill 50.2 mile race has earned my respect and then some. I also had the privilege of helping a runner in that I’d never met before, just over his 8 hour goal…and he even thanked me by barfing on the matt at the finish!!!

The temperature in Penn Valley was cooler than Auburn the previous day. My perfect 10k weather would be 50 at the start, and mid-high 50’s at the end. It was cooler than that, but the clouds burned off, and while it was breezy, the wind could have been much worse. I’d guess under 45 at the start, 50 by the end. I tried a new course this year as I’d run the 5k in 2006 & 2007. This race always brings a little extra buzz in the Nevada City area as it is the first race of the now 3 year old Gold Country Grand Prix. I saw a few familiar faces before the race, and was able to warm up with Peter Lubbers and Larry Defeyter, both of whom have run very well over the last couple years. We did just under 2 miles and were back in time to see most of the kids races, 10-15 minutes before our own.

We were off at 8:45. These are the easiest courses in the Grand Prix, but neither is flat. The 5k is close…you run over one tiny hill a half mile in, and barely start up the first 10k hill before the turnaround. The 10k has a “nice” hill between 1.5-2 miles, and a few decent rollers between 3-4…definitely enough to take notice. Miles 4-6 are mostly downhill and flat, with one exception, before the 250 meter uphill sprint to the finish, which the 5k also runs.

We were on a fairly straight and rolling road for 0.8 miles before turning right, only of note because we started in a headwind. Not gale force, but enough to worry my fragile mind. I’d set a specific goal for this race (the course record of 35:56, by Richard Johnson in 2003). My “A” goal would be to break 35…so headwind was not part of that equation. I’d planned on running negative 5k splits, as the half way point was higher than the start or finish, so to run 35 I was shooting for 17:40/17:20. After trailing the kids (who every year seem to think a 5k is a sprint) for the first minute or two, I was able to take the overall 5k/10k lead and settle into my pace. The first mile was a fairly comfortable 5:30, although the wind made it a little harder than it would have been. I’d driven the course that morning to get a feel for the hills, so I knew what was coming before mile 2…a long gradual climb that didn’t peak the heart rate until it increased in grade right before the crest. I’d expected to lose at least 30 seconds this mile (and did) as I hit 6:03 for mile 2 (11:33). Mile 3 had a couple smaller climbs with some gentle descents, and I was able to get back to pace by pushing the downhills for a 5:31 split. I was still quite comfortable at the turn (17:38-right on pace), and got to see who was coming up…Austin Violette, Greg Ngo, Peter lubbers, and V Nealakanten (I believe they finished in that order, but official results are not posted yet).

Mile 4 was the surprise. I was not expecting easy, but between the hills and crosswind, it was 15 seconds slower than I’d planned (6:08-23:12). It would have been no big deal if I was still comfortable, but the effort for that mile had inched up with the time. Luckily for me, the last two miles were to be the easiest…down the big hill first, for a mile 5 split of 5:26-28:38 (I actually took splits yesterday), and then the glorious tailwind. I’d almost abandoned my thoughts of sub 35 after mile 4, but I’d forgotten that the last .8 would have a tailwind (and I’d also recovered some between miles 4-5), so the push was back on. I was able to increase my turnover on the bike path leading back to the park, and had one of the better kicks I’ve had in quite some time up the last stretch, just to be sure I wouldn’t just miss a sub-35 as I had when running 35:03 at the Run Through the Colors last fall. My last 1.2 miles, with the kick & tailwind, were a 6:08 (5:07 per mile pace), which allowed me to be comfortably under my goal time in 34:46-5:36 per mile (although yesterday’s posted results had me at 34:34-I was a touch slower than that). I’m looking forward to seeing the official results to see how everyone did). I ran the 5k course as a cooldown, and took a few too many minutes to get going, so I missed the 5k awards, but congrats to Larry for winning what I heard was a very tight 5k (1st-5th about a minute apart). I guess that’s the bad part about running the longer race-less socializing after.

Next up is the Nevada City Spring run in 3 weeks. I’m leaning towards the 10k again, and plan on running my first Grand Prix 5k in May. Hope to see several of you again at the end of the month, and congratulations to all of you who finished a 5k, 10k, or 50 miler this past weekend!


here's the link to Steve's article in the Union...