Saturday, May 31, 2008

Run For The Community-May 2008 recap

This event was held in near perfect conditions on Saturday, May 31st, at the Twin Cities Church in Grass Valley. It was event five of twelve in the Gold Country Grand Prix. The points competition is starting to thin, just a bit, as the attendance/competition in the newer races is not usually as high as the beginning and end of the season runs. Consequently, there is only one male and one female that have earned forty of a possible points coming into this race.
This race was somewhat of a disaster last year. I could blame it on Shawn Ryley, as it’s still possible he jinxed me when we warmed up together last year, but I suppose it’s just as likely that I was still getting back into shape and just got wooped by a faster runner. I’d run 18:15 at the relatively flat/rolling Daffodil 5k, and about 18:40 at the hilly Save the Animals 5k a month later. I didn’t gauge how difficult the 5k course would be until after I ran the first mile too fast chasing Reno High runner Brandon Nied (everyone else did as well as this was a first year event in 2007). After a downhill first mile of road and soft dirt, the 5k winds around an orchard, climbs back out and does 2/3 of a mile up the road, back to the church. After a 5:08 at mile one, I’d run 13:38 the rest of the way (or 6:29 pace for those keeping score). NOT fun! After narrowly winning the first two 5k’s in 2007, I was 49 seconds off the leader in this one and never challenged. By the end of the year, I was able to run much better at the Turkey Trot 5k by outpacing him 16:18 to 16:59 for the win.
This year, as I’ve been training for longer distances, I am more comfortable with the 10k distance, so that’s what I’d signed up for, but I had my doubts…as slow as the 5k course was last year, the 10k course is harder. After running most of the 5k course, you bomb downhill on a dirt/rock/gravel trail at between a 7% and 10% grade for 1.1 miles. At that point, you do a 180 and head back up for about 0.8 miles before a nice break-a one mile out and back on a ditch trail (the only really flat part on the course). You then finish the 1.1 mile hill that you flew down, make a left, and do the last 0.4 miles the same as the 5k course (still climbing 1-4% here).
I ran into Joe Parker of Reno right before the race, and he let me know that Brandon would be gunning for me in the 10k and Joe would run the 5. I was more comfortable with racing a track/cross country runner in a tough 10k than I would have been in a flat 5k. I felt a mix of hopefulness/confidence that my endurance & strength could overcome his superior speed due to the terrain and distance.
We started "comfortably hard" on the downhill, sharing a few words before hitting the mile mark side by side in 5:05. I was quite pleased that I was feeling great with a 5:05, as the 5:08 first mile did me in last year. We hit some loose dirt and dust between mile one and two. At one point, one of the two pace bikes fell off pace enough that Brandon was getting a mouthful from his tires! We pretty much played Siamese twin for the first 3 miles of the race, with neither of us ever being more than a second in front of or behind the other. At the top of the big hill, I played the good sport and let him know where we stood ("it’s a 5k from here back to this point, and then less than 0.4 to the finish").
At one point on the downhill I may have doubled my lead to a whopping two seconds before the turn back up. I did not feel fast up this hill, but it was so long and unrelenting that I was actually able to build a five or six second lead by the time we turned onto the ditch trail, ¾ of the way up the climb. I’d talked to Peter (last year’s 10k winner) about strategy on this part of the course during our warm-up. Do you hold back a little so you get the heart rate down and then finish the climb well, or try to make up time here and hope for the best. We’d decided that pushing was better (within reason of course J) so I tried to extend my lead on the flats. I ran as close as I could to a normal 10k pace, conserving just enough to insure I wouldn’t implode on the last hill. On one hand, the strategy seemed to fail. When I got to the turnaround a half mile later, Brandon was only three seconds back. I think I was able to get it back to five or six seconds before finishing the hill, and then was able to run scared up the last hill, and on the road to the church, and extend my lead to 35-40 seconds before the end. So in the end, I wasn’t able to extend my lead on the flats, but I was able to push Brandon hard enough that he didn’t have a kick up the hill. We came in (approx-I haven’t seen official results) 37:03, and 37:40. If I would have been able to get into the 36 minute range, I’d include this as one of my better races of 2008, but I think the Daffodil (34:50 on a hilly course, but they were normal sized hills), and a 43:41 at the Salmon Run, have been my strongest races so far. Peter was able to take 18 seconds off last year’s time and came in 3rd at 44:01. Joe represented Reno well by winning the 5k in 18:36. As usual, they were quick with the results…they’d actually started age group 5k awards while myself, Peter, Austin, Joe, and Brandon were finishing our 5k cool-down. To my surprise, I heard my wife’s name called-IN HER FIRST EVER RACE! She ran the 5k right at her goal time, 32:52, and placed 3rd in the female 20-29 AG. Way to go Abby!!! I screamed like a little girl for her, but alas, we were to far away and they didn’t hear me. We are now plotting which one to do next!
After the race, we had a little down time before Laurie Goodnight’s wedding at the United Methodist Church, and the following reception at the Stonehouse. Abby’s Dad and I ran out of gas at 10, and left Abby and Betty to party without us.
The next two weekends are full of relays…the twelve person Reno-Tahoe Odyssey (198 miles) June 6-7, and the 7 person Tahoe Relay (72 miles around the lake) the following weekend. I hope all is well.
See you at the races!
here's the link to Steve's article in the Union...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Get Fit With Fido 5k (Silver State 50)

Well…we knew it was going to be a warm one. Keep in mind, as I whine and complain about the 94 degree heat & humidity in Nevada City on Saturday, Peter & Austin were running in 93 degree heat (but less humidity, of course) for 50+ miles. Their course was really flat and easy, though, as any of you who have ever ran up and over Peavine Mountain (twice) would know. Only 3,500 vetical feet to the top, at mile 12.5, back down, back up, and then 12 miles back to the finish again. That sounds easy, right? I would sweat more than my total body weight if I tried to run a 50-miler in that heat. Peter came in just over 10 hours, looking ready to sprint a 5k, and Austin just over 12. Eventually, we made our way to the Truckee River to soak, before they set out for California in search of cheeseburgers.

Onto the real man’s race…the 5k. Enough of this endurance stuff! The Get Fit With Fido races, for those who don’t know, are run on the same courses as the Spring Run, held a month before. Not my favorites, but not so hard that you can’t run a halfway decent time. I’d run 38:14/17:56 in 2006 in the April 10k/May 5k. Last year I skipped the 10, and ran the 5k in about 18:40, while still getting back into shape after 7 months off. I actually came in at 19:11, but I'd made a wrong turn and ran an extra 30 seconds or so during the last mile. This year, I was able to drop down to a 35:50 in the 10k, which is the tougher of the two courses. After 2/3 of a mile downhill, the 5k course splits to the right and pretty much flattens, while the 10k continues to drop. My goal was to break 17 flat, and to do that, I’d need to run 8 flat for the first half, and hope to keep it under 9 on the way back up the hill. I’m guessing it was the humidity, but even though I felt better during the warm-up than I did last week, I was sweating like a stuck pig after 2.7 miles on the course. My least favorite part of this course is a speed-killing, foot and quad pounding 100 degree turn after only 50 or 60 meters. Due to the narrow start, I had to sprint to get to the front, just in time to slam on the breaks in order to stay on the asphalt/gravel road…and then try to settle into a good, fast pace. It was likely I’d have to be @5:00 for the first mile to run in the 16’s, so I was a little nervous when I hit mile 1 in 5:06-less than one second faster than the 10k start last month, & feeling like it was a 4:56! The road was relatively flat to the turn from here. I hit the turn @8:06 (still 6 seconds off, but at least I wasn’t falling further behind pace). Jeff Boutte was looking strong in second, followed 100m. or so later by 12 year old phenom Zach Stoll, and birthday boy Steve Bond in 4th. Sara Freitas has run & won this race before (with her dog, even), but she was not there Saturday, and both the women’s races would prove to be wide-open. I didn’t feel particularly strong or weak on the way up, but I thought I’d be unlikely to make up 6-7 seconds the way I was feeling. There were a couple spots where I was hurting, and since I had a comfortable lead, backed off just a little (which I’d come to regret). The uphill 0.7 miles is followed by another speed-killing (160 degree) turn, and an additional 10-20 seconds up a steep grade to the finish line. I’d come in just outside of goal pace in a hair over 17:00. The order of the top 4 would remain the same as at the turn.

Partly due to the repetitive nature of running a second run on the same course as another race (especially one month later), the field size (and depth) were not the same as the Spring Run. Also, due to the never ending expansion of the size of the Grand-Prix (now at 12 races and counting), the less popular races will not do as well, or draw the same level of competition, as less and less runners will try to run them all. I headed back down the course within 5 minutes of finishing to see how Larry was doing in the 10k. No worries there, as he had a HUGE lead when I saw him around the 4.8-4.9 mile mark. He would win by about 5 minutes, I believe over Mike Buzbee. I think as the course dropped, and the day wore on, the temp climbed higher. If I was sweating like a stuck pig during my warm-up, I have no words to explain what happened during the 3.5 mile cool-down J. With my intrepid libberian skills, I found that I technically got the race’s record time, but not a course record, as at least one or two runners have been in the 16’s in the Spring Run.

As the race is only 4 year’s old, the history was easy to find…Larry won the 5k in 2005 in 18:58, I won in 2006 in 17:56, and in a weaker field in 2007 in 19:11, before 17:00 this year. After a great breakfast right down the street at the old Wisdom CafĂ©, we’d drive back to Reno, jumping in a freezing cold Donner Lake with dogs along the way…head to a one-year-old’s birthday party in Spanish Springs, and drop off Abby, Hannah, and the dogs before catching the Silver State 50/50 finish @Rancho. Most of my body recovered very well. I was able to run 9.3 miles at a decent clip yesterday. Hardly any muscle soreness…but the right Achilles is more pissed than ever for some reason. I’m still waiting on my MRI results from last week (surprise, surprise). So hopefully there is a course of action that I can take that does not involve time off…I’ve had enough of that over the last few years!

Happy running! Next up is the Run For The Community 10k in two weeks, followed by the Odyssey, and the Tahoe Relay before a bit of a break.

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

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Smoked Salmon (with Apologies to Peter)

Hannah after lunch... Oxygen? I don't need no stinkin' oxygen...

post awards...

Pete Lubbers looking way too he didn't run hard enough

uphill finishes suck...

My weekend festivities started on Friday night…Abby’s Mom was working on race-day (and we’d be back in Reno for Mother’s Day), so we exchanged gifts on Friday night. I’m only including this here because it involves running! I’d been plotting with the in-laws for some time to surprise Abby with a trip to Hawaii (she’s been nagging me since we’ve been married). On December 7th, I’ll be running in the XTerra World Championships, a 13-14 mile extreme off-road race in the location where Lost and Jurassic Park were filmed. For 3 days before and a few days after the race, we’ll be having a great time exploring volcanoes, snorkeling, and apparently having mai-tai’s on the beach (according to Abby). Needless to say, she was quite surprised. She’d actually solicited me to run Les Wright’s (the Tahoe Marathon RD’s) race in Maui in January. I shot her down of course, only to reveal a couple hours later that we were already going. The only downside to this trip is that I will have to postpone running Boston. Maybe 2010?
On to grand-prix race #3…The Salmon Run. Easily the hardest course on the series, rivaling other tough courses like the TRT (without the elevation) or Prison Hill. The course has 4 distinct sections. After a brief (0.3) mile stretch of road, you hit a 2+ mile descent on a rocky trail to the river basin. I’d run max speed on this section last year, and even though I’m in better shape this time around, I was figuring to cut a max of 30 seconds here. Section 2 is the dreaded Salmon Ladder (check out Peter’s blog for an elevation profile). 700 meters straight (and I mean straight) UP. I walked more than half of this section in 2007. I figured if I ran it all this year, I could cut 30-60 seconds here as well. For the next 2.4 miles we were on a relatively flat and winding flume trail. After being so taxed from the ladder in 2007, this section was slow, which allowed for the possibility to cut a very large chunk of time off previous years. The last section met up with the trail and went back up a large portion of the initial descent, before hitting the road for 0.3 back to the start/finish.
I’d run 49:36 in 2006 (the bridge was washed out that year, so this included a river crossing-maybe sub 48 with the bridge?) two months after running sub 35 at the Jester Jog (6.1 miles) in Carson City. Last year, with the bridge back but with a little less fitness, I was able to run 49:44, and finally pull away from Peter at the base of the last climb. This gives you an idea of the difference between this course, and a flat 10k. Besides the hills, this "10k" course is actually between 6.7 miles & 6.9 miles. The course record was my goal for Saturday, held by a runner I know (Ross Mcmahan 47:36 from 2004). Dan King may have run a slightly lower time in 2005, as he was definitely 47 & change as well, but I couldn’t find the exact time). Originally my "A" goal was 44-45 minutes ("B" goal of 45-46). Since the night before the Spring Run, however, I’ve had severe stomach issues and had missed several days of work, and skipped/shortened several workouts. I was hoping I’d still done enough to get a taper benefit without having lost any fitness. I did about a mile warm-up around the Sierra Friends Center before joining Peter for another mile or so to the start. The warm-up didn’t feel so great, but I tried not to pay any attention to it…
Peter had stuck to me like white on rice on the downhill last year, and I was expecting more of the same as he is my superior when it comes to hilly/mountainous running (much like Fred in Reno)…they actually like this stuff!!! I felt like I was running a little faster down the hill than last year. For a mile or longer, I could hear Peter behind me. Half way down, I could no longer hear him, but I know he was still close...lurking. I hit the bottom feeling pretty good. While this downhill stretch beats the crap out of your legs, you can run it at a fast clip (close to 5 minute pace) without the heart rate getting too high. That would change almost immediately when I hit the ladder. I was able to run up the whole thing, although I paused briefly at the top to take in a couple ounces of water. This allowed my heart rate to creep down (as it was dangerously high) and allowed me to wipe the rivers of sweat flowing into my eyes. This also allowed me to go hard immediately on the flatter section, unlike last year. This section seemed long, although I know I was going faster, because I was dreading the climb at the end. I got some encouragement from the last couple walkers that had started a half hour before us, and tried to lean into every winding turn to avoid losing any speed. I nearly ran into the out-house again, as I had last year, but I saw it soon enough that I was able to jump back down to the lower trail as opposed to hopping the fence. I had to do this a couple other times as well to stay on the trail, but it only cost me a total of 5-10 seconds. I knew if I hit the road in under 45 minutes, that I’d have the course record in the bag, as there was under 2 minutes left from here to the finish. I was able to accelerate slightly when I saw the finish (after feeling like a slug up the last climb) to a surprising finish time of 43:41-over a minute faster than I was expecting! I think 90% of the 6 minutes I was able to cut from last year’s time came between mile 2 and 5.5. Needless to say I was happy with the result, especially given how I’d felt over the past two weeks. The stomach issues are ongoing as I haven’t gotten any test results back, so it was nice to know I could push through them.
As I had predicted, Peter came in under 50 for the first time, in 49:16. His time actually beat both my winning times from 2006 & 2007, and was (from my research into the course record) the 5th fastest time ever in the 8 year history of this race. Austin Violette continued to show his dramatic improvement & strength by coming in 3rd in 50:00 (fastest 3rd place time ever), with Greg, Neal, and Robert coming in shortly after.
My parents had both made the trek from Reno that morning, and it was great to see them both at the finish! (Peter, Neal, and Austin-we have pics of all three of you-I’ll send them along when I get them). Along with Abby, Hannah, & her Dad, we all enjoyed a great post-race lunch (after Neal informed me after our cool-down that I talk too much). Abby scored another great Patagonia jacket (no wonder she likes this race!) and my Dad & I even got in a round of ping-pong after lunch.
All in all, it was a great day. This continues to be one of my favorite races for it’s course, as well as organization, food, and great prizes! It feels great to run a race that scares so many people off as well. Peter and Austin are trading places with me next week…as I travel to Nevada City for race #4, the Animal Save 5k, they will be in Reno, running 50 miles up and down Peavine Mountain in the Silver State 50 50. Good luck to you both…I’ll be thinking about you as I enjoy my 17 minute run and am eating lunch!
here's the link to Steve's article in the Union...