Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 Year In Review

2008 was, by the numbers, my most succesful year since before I had Achilles surgery back in July of 2001. I'd been able to build up my fitness, endurance, and sometimes even my speed for nearly 11 months in 2007, with only a couple short breaks, and by last fall, was feeling about as close to "normal" or "healthy" as I'll ever see. I caught the marathon bug, and ran in four of 'em (three competitively) between October and March, with a 2:42 pr coming on that last one in Napa. For some odd reason, the fondest memories seem to come from the races in wine country. Hmmmmm. And Bend...but I wasn't able to race there in '08. Maybe next year. He he he.
I treated many of the shorter races like speed workouts, and therefore was able to race 23 times, although I was only able to train via running for 8 months out of (i believe it's still) 12. I tried to run all the Gold Country Grand Prix races one last time, and came close, running in 10 of 12 events. Sadly, my favorite of them all, the Salmon Run, is no longer. But my other favorites, the Daffodil Run, and Run Through the Colors, have quite a following, and I'm sure they'll be around for years to come.
Admitedly, many of my races were of the small, homegrown variety, so my numbers are skewed a little (to my liking), but this was a succesful year by nearly all accounts.
23 races
17 wins
10 course records (9 on established courses) & one slowest winning time in the event's history
a 7 race and a 5 race win streak
a 13 race GP win streak from 6/07-11/08
still undefeated (within my age group) after 3 years of grand prix races.
I was more concerned, as are most runners, with racing myself, as opposed to others, so i took more from the fact that my times were reasonably close to what they used to be than I did in places. After not running under 17 minutes (on an accurate course) for seven years, I was able to run a 5k in 16:25, 16:26, and 16:29 this year-all at 4,500 feet. My best 10k was slower, but was on a hilly course (34:50). I was a little over a minute off my 8k pr (25:59), running 27:18 @sea level. And as I was new to these distances, ran pr's in the marathon and 30k.
The hardest race was easily the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. I'd already received word that I had a partially torn right Achilles tendon (either since last September-when it started hurting, or the beginning of May-when it started hurting worse). Between that, struggles with cramps, and fatigue due to the crazy schedule, my third and final leg may have been the hardest run I've ever done. But...a course record set with several friends will smooth over the physical pain!
With a little bit of luck, I was able to climb back into a tie for the overall points lead in the grand prix, after the last race. Silver lining on a day that I was thoroughly disgusted with how I ran.
I'm hoping to get up on Mt. Rose to snowshoe a couple times this winter. I've been on a complete break from running since 12/7, although I didn't run much in November either. The right side/hip/back is still painful, possibly due to the Achilles on that side. Since there isn't a more direct line of treatment, rest is the only thing on the table, so I'll be off til February (although I'm planning on sneaking in a couple easy short runs next month). There are a couple unique races on the planner for 2009, including climbing 52 flights of stairs in San Fransisco on March 28th, (and swimming from Alcatraz to SF (already signed up) in July) in what will hopefully be my return to racing in 2009. As my wife has noticed, I'll probably blog about beer more than running over these next couple months, and in the unlikely event that you actually want to read more of my ramblings (I'll save the blogging for the mass participant taste-offs and truly exceptional beers), I've rated well over 300 beers on under slowrunner77 (imagine that!), and am having quite a bit of fun, so there are no plans to stop any time soon. I've probably drank three times that many in my 10 legal (and a couple underage) years. Here's to a happy and healthy 2009!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hawaii Trip part II (the race part)

this is Abby playing with the "16 frame" function on our new on any of the pics for better detail. this one's the finish of the "xduro".
driving in to the staging area

don't we look cool!?
ADULT WARNING, gratiutous shower pics! It was raining, & this was the only way to get the mud off before getting back in the car. (below) Hannah & I showing off our new XTerra tatoos!

da start...
the pre-race bathroom line, not all shown here, which I abandoned after several minutes. 8 porta-johns, really?
the view from our table at Kona, although it seemed blurrier when I took this. Hmmmm...

view of Diamondhead from Waikiki beach

Pearl Harbor, and the USS Arizona Memeorial

(above) sunset guessed it...Sunset Beach

my favorite beach...

As many of you know, this trip was planned as a Mother's Day surprise for Abby back in May, with a big race thrown in for my benefit. Not known to me at the time was that I would not be able to train properly or at all for most of June, July, November & December. That being said, my race goals for the XTerra Trail Run World Championships went from being competitive to surviving (which I was able to do). The race was held on 12/7 on a ridiculously hilly, sometimes muddy, sometimes trail-less 21k course at KuaLoa Ranch on Oahu. While en route we passed, and were passed by Jurassic Park Tour Jeeps, and ran through jungle while seeing several panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean. I ran fairly steady the whole way, if a bit slow. I lost contact with a pack that I was clinging to at the start, but for the most part I kept a similar position through the whole race. I estimated I was in the top 20 or so after the pack dropped me...I was actually 15th...would be passed by two guys when I stepped aside to let them by on a uphill singletrack 56 minutes in, and after passing through the start area at mile 10 (I was really hoping it was mile 11 or 12), I actually passed one of them back with about a mile to go to finish 16th, in 1:43 & change. While I was 25 minutes behind the champ, he is a 1:02-03 runner on a flat course and ran 1:18. That translates to about a 1:25 for me on a flatter course...10 minutes off my best, but ok considering. It was a great experience, a great course, and as I finished only 9 places & 6 minutes out of the prize money, I'm hoping to be back when in better shape!
As I stated in my last blog, we sampled 40 beers while in Hawaii...Abby's parents, Jim & Betty were glad to help with that, as was Abby, myself, & Hannah, who is now a borderline alcoholic! That was a ton of fun & I am now in full beer-drinking mode...I haven't run a step since the race, and I don't plan on trying again until 2-1-09, hoping for a healthier 11 months of 2009. Since 10/27, I've only run a couple quality workouts, and I could really feel it in the 3 tune-up/survival runs I did between the Turkey Trot & XTerra. They were one hour long run, and two 20 minute runs, and were all a struggle, as I sweated likw a stuck pig. I plan on being more active than I was during the 7 weeks I took off this summer, so even though I've already "tapered" for a few weeks, I'm hoping to regain my fitness within a couple months of resuming training in February. I've dropped my last 2008 race, January marathon, February 50k, and a couple others...planning on being back in action at the Climb California in SF on March 28th, and back in good enough shape to attempt a 5k course record (16:34) at the Daffodil run in April.

The trip itself was great. Between the beer, fish so fresh it melted in your mouth (and we ate lots of fish!), the beaches with the warm ocean water, and the 68 degree low temp for the week, I didn't really want to come back to the real world, but at least I'll be back at the gym tomorrow morning when it's 20 degrees outside! I've attatched a few pics to gve y'all a visual of the race, and the beaches where we swam, and that I ran by or on during my 3 training runs there. Mahalo.

You can see race pics XTerra's the XTerra trail running World Championships...12/7/08...KuaLoa ranch, Oahu. My bib # was 44.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hawaii Trip part one (the beer part)

taps at the Yardhouse, & the Kona Brewery @Diamomdhead
I'll save the great detail for another time, suffice to say we tried 40 different beers while one vacation on Oahu last week, both before & after the XTerra World Trail Run Championships. Nothing that blew my mind, but we had quite a few noteworthy beers, many good ones, and not too many stinkers. I took notes as we went, to avoid later confusion, to give you all a nice, easy grade scale (he he he). Editor's note...two of the higher grades are for floats (which is really cheating), but they're going in here anyway. If you think beer floats are gross, then you're really missing out. We're not talking Heineken floats here people. Think Starbucks frappucino with an alcohol kick... A good amount of our beers were enjoyed at the Kona Brewing Co & the Yardhouse @Waikiki Beach, which we had to visit 3 times since they boast 130 draft beers!!
Kona Imperial Kona Stout A- just like Pipeline Porter, but replace the porter with 8% stout
Youngberry A- 1/2 Young's Dbl. Chocolate Stout (on nitro), 1/2 Lindeman's Framboise. Perfect texture with half the beer on nitro, half not.
Young's Dbl. Choc. Stout float A-
Deschutes Green Lakes Organic A-/B+ maltier on tap than bottled, pretty good either way
Lindeman's Framboise float A-/B+ almost as good as the Young's, SAWEEEEEET!
Kona Pipeline Porter A-/B+ brewed with Kona coffee, 'nuf said
Rogue Old Crustacean B+ solid barleywine, a little on the hoppy side, but malty up front
Maui Coconut Porter B+ great body for a porter, suttle roasted coconut finish
Kona Wailua Wheat B+ you may never see me rate a wheat beer this high again...the surprise of the trip. i've had it bottled and had not planned to have it again, but holy crap, is it refreshing on tap. brewed w/passionfruit. maybe I had a bad one last month???
Paulaner Salvator B+ winner of the doublebock taste-off (surprisingly)
Maui Big Swell IPA B+ great bodied canned IPA
Blue Frog Big DIPA B+ body of a barleywine, flavor of an IPA
Blue Frog IPA B+ better hops than the DIPA, but less on the mouthfeel
St Rogue Red B+ better than I remembered. Dry hopped & still malty
Grimbergen Dubbel B/B+ one of several belgians at the Yardhouse. the best we tried
Blue Frog Red Frog B solid hoppy red ale
Kona IPA B citusy & refreshing
Kona Sandman? Porter B solid porter, but we had it right before Pipeline...
Spaten Optimator B I'd still buy it before Paulaner, but it didn't match up well that day
Warsteiner Dunkel B solid sample of the style. malt lovers rejoice
Leffe Bruin B very similar to the Grimbergen
Lost Coast Alleycat Amber B/B-
Kona Barleywine B- darker, english style
Big Aloha Ehu B- english style pale, great body, but lacking in hops
Kona Lavaman Red B-
Kona Pale B-
Blue Frog Oatmeal stout B- (nitro)
Rogue Hazelnut Brown B- the nut flavor was more underwhelming than we remembered
Mehana Pale B-
Maui Bikini Blonde B- about as good as a blonde will ever be
Mammoth Paranoid Pale B-
Red Hook Double Black B- coffee imperial stout...poor for the style, but good overall (& for a Red Hook beer)
Hinano Tihiti Lager B-/C+ good, sweet lager...better than average
Bare Knuckle Stout B-/C+ underwhelming flavor, smooth (nitro), more like a Guiness than I'd like
Kona Hefe C+
Kona Macadamia Nut Brown C+ the lack of macadamia flavor was disappointing
Keoki Sunset C/C-
Kona Big Wave Golden C/C-
Blue Frog Dunkelweizen C- not my favoroite style, & this one was too heavily spiced
Duke's Blonde D standard blonde, which is to say, boooooring