Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AGE GRADED 80!

I'd posted last October a goal of mine - what it would take for me to run an age-graded 80 or better (scraping the bottom of National class) and finally hit one after an up and down 13 months. After coming oh-so-close in June and again in Spetember, my time from a certified Davis course on Saturday was an 80.3! After a 9:29 3k in California (78.9) and a 12:38 4k in New York (79.6) it's a relief, and another goal hit. The funny thing is, though, not all age-graded calculators are created equal. They seem to range up to a half point, but luckily I don't have to dig too deep to find out which is dead on - the 16:10 5k was anywhere from 80.2-80.4...over 80 either way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Double race weekend = good times (ha, ha)

the Turkey Trot 5k start, courtesy of Abby...just click to get BIG. Your's Truly is in the Eclipse Ruuning blues on the right.
the stroller division descends on Crepeville!!!
afterglow?
the start of Sunday's run
Dave lookin like he's haulin' some serious arse
coming off the beach run
traffic (Sunday photos courtesy of Breakout Racing)

After a 5th straight solid week of training, I'd been looking forward to getting on a flat course for a change and seeing how close I could come to the old times. My goal for the Davis Turkey Trot on Saturday was to run a post-Achilles surgery pr, or 16:20 or faster. I've been able to pretty much match my treadmill time trials when running a flat, fast course. I'd done so last spring and last fall, running in the 16:20's on the tread right before doing so on the road (or a 15:54 3-miler) and did so again in May, running 16:32 after a 16:31 on the tread on quality, but very limited quantity, training before taking half the summer off.
Things have been building since starting up again in August, and my last 2 time trials were my fastest, a 16:16 a couple weeks ago, and a 15:50 downhill on Wednesday. To further help things along, and since I was planning on racing 2 different races on consecutive days for the first time since 2001, Abby and I booked a room at the Courtyard Marriot in Rancho Cordova on Friday & Saturday night, to minimize travel (ie-tightness) before the races. We drove over in the snow on Friday night, but had left early enough to get there in time for a great pre-race dinner at the Elephant Bar, and a restfull, childless night at the hotel. The next morning, we woke up to pretty heavy fog and cold temps. I was really hoping the fog would stick around for the race as we drove to Davis, but there was still well over an hour to go. As it turned out, it hung around somewhat, but you didn't quite have the effect of runners appearing out of clouds.
Picking up the # & tech-T went smoothly, and I did a 2 1/2 mile warm-up and a couple strides before we were coralled behind the mats. At 8:20, we were off. I took off fast, but quickly settled into a more maintainable pace once there was room. There are a couple thousand in the race, so position was important. I started behind 4 or 5 others, most of them young, and just waited for someone to take off, but they never did. On one hand, this drastically simplified my strategy. I took the lead nervously about a half mile in, and pretty much ran scared the rest of the way. I figured it would take a minor miracle for me to break 16, and the winning time is usually in the 15's, even sub-15 a couple times, so I was not, I repeat - NOT - expecting to have a shot in this race. As we went by the mile mark, I resisted the urge to get a split. I just didn't really want to know. I was still leading, but had probably more than one runer hot on my heals, so if I was going faster than I should, I didn't want to know. And if I was going slower but still feeling it, I really didn't want to know...so I ran in ignorant semi-bliss the rest of the race, using random landmarks & mile markers to get me to the next section. "OK, gotta keep the lead to the corner...OK, hold on to mile 2...2.1...2.5. Hold on. There was actually a hill before 2.5. A freeway overpass, but for this course a hill. I still didn't know what pace I was running, but since I still had a lead, I knew it wasn't leisurely. And the "hill" scared me. What if I blow up on this stupid, little 30-foot hill? I was already red-lining the heart rate. I think I eased off the gas just a touch up and over, but of course, there was a drop on the other side, so the drag race was back on. With maybe a half mile to go, I finally got a look at who was chasing, and there were a few not to far back, as we did an out-and-back on a street to make the distance right. A couple young guys not far back, but it was close now. After dodging several of the strollers who apparently didn't know or care there was a race coming up behind them (and why start the strollers before the competetive runners?) and winding through a park, the end was in sight. I didn't have a great kick, but think I sped up a little when I saw the 6 and then 3 mile markers, and finished 1st (shockingly) in 16:10.3. I wouldn't know til a couple hours later that 2nd was 18 seconds back. Definitely further than when I'd been able to sneek a peak with a few minutes to go. This one rivals NY in September as the best I've felt in recent months crossing the line. Like I said, I wrote this one off as unwinnable, so I was happy.
No relaxing quite yet, though. I had a much harder (but less competitive) race to run the next day, so I had to take care of myself. I changed shoes and put some clothes and a beanie back on, as it was still pretty chilly, and headed out with the intention of running the 5k course backwards...but, I saw the 10k pack split off the 5k course and followed, which was a blast, and then ran the 2nd half of the 5k course again, the right way, back to the finish. All in all, over 4 miles for the cooldown, which is easily the longest I've ever done. Paid off, too. I got a little stretching in at the expo, replenished calories as well as possible, ran into Robert, who's son Callan had just pr'd, and visited the local farmers market. For those who've run the
Davis stampede, this race starts on the other side of the park where the Stampede Expo/Farmer's Market is held, about three blocks away. Deja vu. For the rest of the day, Abby & I had a free pass, since Hannah was staying in Grass Valley with Grandpa Jim & Grandma Betty, so we went back to the hotel for a quick soak & stretch, and headed to Citrus Heights for lunch (Elephant Bar, take 2) and a movie (New Moon with a bunch of teenage girls...that was interesting!). We were back at the hotel before 6, and I traded Abby, who went to Grass Valley, for Dave, who came from Verdi after work, and would be running the trails with me on Sunday morning. We took a short drive to the Old Spaghetti Factory for some more good food (although this dinner didn't sit quite as well as the last).
Folsom Winter Trail Series race #3 was at Folsom Point State Park, and agin for me and Dave, was a new trail. So far, we'd run one with a killer hill or two, and another easier but winding course with a fallen tree to hurdle. Sunday's obstacle would be wind. As I'd also taken an ice bath at the hotel Saturday night, there was virtually no soreness in my legs from the first 5k, save for the Achilles, which I think hurts if I look at it wrong. I noticed when stretching, though, that my legs were surprisingly tired. As it turned out, my closest competition on Sunday would be a local high school freshman, who led for the first minute or two. We started on a somewhat technical, rolling dirt/mud path before hitting the levy for about 2/3 of a mile. This part was flat, but gravel covered and windy, so it was easy...but not fast. I waited til we got to the levy before taking the lead, but once I did, tried to put as much distance on the others as I could, so nobody could draft. Hit the mile mark in the high 5:40's, and came upon the one big climb. I backed off a touch as I could see that the field had already spread out, got up and over, and hit a hairy technical downhill to the beach (which was probably the slowest portion), then back up to the levee. I had to run on the shoulder of the levy (deeper gravel) since none of the runners/walkers still going the other way seemed inclined to NOT take up the whole trail. No biggie, though. They soon cleared and I was approaching the home stretch. I maintained a decent pace on the slight uphill finish and came in 17:43.
Now the wait. Scoring is based on the winner's time / your time, so somebody running about 19:40 would get a 90, based on my time. For whatever reason, that # is what was in my head, so I was hoping for a 2-minute lead. The 14 year-old had easily outpaced 3rd (another minute & change back) & finished in 19:53, the 2:10 gap equaling almost 11 points. It didn't really matter, though, as two of the guys who are closest in the standings finished a closer 1st and second in the 7-miler, now that there are three (originally only 2) distances to choose from at each race, so they still got their 98-100 points as well. We'll have to all be in the same race to start spreading out the overall standings a bit. Dave placed 21st in 29:36 and scored a 60.45, probably moving up a touch in the standings in the process.
Finally...after many days and hours of abstaining, and after a return trip to the hotel to soak again, Dave and I went for a beer. Nowhere new, but Auburn Alehouse is only about 30 seconds out of the way on the drive home and had two newbies for us to try, which both turned out quite well...Black the Ripper & Hop Harvest. Uh...Yum.
So, a great weekend for running. I'd like to do the Sparks Turkey Trot on Thursday, but I don't know if I'll recover in time. Either way, this week will be an abbreviated one, before hitting things hard again for the rest of the year. Other than a possible 10k on Thursday, the remainder of the year looks like the Moomlight Madness 5k on Friday night, December 4th, and the Folsom Trail Series #4 (haven't decided short or long) on Sunday, December 13th. 2010 is starting to form in my head as well, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Gotta stay healthy first.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Donner Lake Turkey Trot

the start...that's my co-coach from McQueen High, Ron Cross, right behind me, and Hannah entertaining herself while we ran.
the view from West End Beach and a hundred yards from the finish.
Three quarters of Team Library Dork headed up the hill for what I beleive is the year's first Turkey Trot, the 33rd Annual Donner Lake edition. It's so simple, even I can't get lost*. One lap around the lake (a hair over 7 miles) starting & finishing at the west end beach, which on this chilly day, would be covered in ice and frost. Dave & I had been up to Donner twice in the previous week to get some miles in on the road up here, and although snow and ice would force the course organizers to run the race in the opposite direction, we still had a lot of fun, and got some benefit from, our training runs.
I figured to be between 40-42 minutes on this course, and the winning times the last two years had been 41-42+, so as long as I ran within that range, I'd have a chance to at least equal a personal best eight race win streak. I had one in the fall of 2000, and almost matched it last fall before dropping a stinker at what would have been eight in a row at the Michael Bratton Turkey Trot in Nevada City.
We also met up with honorary member Gretchen Brugman from Truckee (who won the women's race!), and after a 2 1/2 mile warm-up, which was needed to wake up the cold muscles, we were off.
I tentatively took the lead before we exited the West End lot, and headed east towards Reno on the flat side of the lake. The only real difference between what we'd practiced and what was on race day, was that the hills would now be in the last 40% of the race instead of the first 40%. This was totally necessary due to what would have been a long and dangerous ice-covered downhill (which was now a slowish ice-covered uphill). It was hard to have exact splits because at least 3 of the markers were off, but I beleive mile 1 was really 0.9, mile 4-5 and 5-6 were probably a bit short as well, and mile 7 was definitely 1.21. My 3 mile split (where I'd lose the lead due to oncoming side cramps) was 16:24 (probably a hair under 17 minutes in reality)...still on pace to break 40 but I knew I was in trouble. I let a runner pass without much of a fight and hoped he'd be the only one. From 3-5 I just tried to keep him in sight. About 4.5 in, we hit some snow on the east end of the lake, which was all shaded, before climbing the big ice hill. I managed over the last third of the race to cut his lead by maybe 10 seconds or so, but the cramp never went away, and I never got close enough to challenge. The last 1.21 was 6:53, or about 5:40 pace again, but was rolling downhill, so I only made up a couple seconds here. I'd finish second, 22 seconds back, in 41:15 (5:52+ per mile) well ahead of third, who was another 2+ minutes back. Not a bad day given the circumstances, but being that my "A" goal time would have won the race, I was a little disappointed.
That did not last long, however. I cooled down on course and was able to see Gretchen & Turi finish, before meeting Dave at mile 5.6 and pacing him the rest of the way in. There were raffle prizes, and although the food was gone by the time my name was called (2nd to last), I managed a subscription (I'm guessing a year?) to Trail Runner magazine. After that, I hit up a coffee joint we'd seen the previous Sunday, and all of us (including Abby & Hannah) had a great lunch at FiftyFifty Brewing Co. in Truckee. Those of you who know me may know I gave up on this place after getting horrible service during three visits over the course of a year. Because we had a couple beer drinkers in our party, in addition to myself, I decided togive them a 4th chance...and it was totally worth it. No earth-shattering beers, but they were solid across the board, and the service was actually good for the first time in the history of the world!! All in all not a bad day, although I'd have preferred the streak continue. It wouldn't have made too much difference anyway. If I'd reached eight, it still would've ended this coming Saturday in Davis where the winning time is regularly faster than I've ever run. I am hoping for a post-surgery 5k pr in that race, though, before taking on Folsom Trail Run race #3 the following day...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"off" week

No race this weekend, but there's 3 over the next 2 weeks, and today's run around Donner Lake gave me 65 miles for the week, my highest since the end of October...2008! Cool beans-this was after setting what had been my weekly high for the year just last week (a hair under 55 miles), and included 2 quality interval days and lots o' weights. I wish every week was like that...but with a race!
The next three are the Donner Lake Turkey Trot 7-miler on 11-15, which had some quality guys up front last year, the Davis Turkey Trot 5k on 11-21, which I have no chance to win barring a natural disaster to the leader(s) while on course, & Folsom Trail Series #3 (5k) on 11-22. I haven't raced back to back, save for the Odyssey, in nearly a decade, so that should be fun.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

race pictures from New York!







I finally have visual evidence that my best race of the year actually happened. It was also Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day Of Play, hence the pictures of SpongeBob, Patrick, Brobee, DJ Lance, and the Backyardigans. I think DJ lance was cheating on me with Tiki Barber!
Looks like I may have been 12:38 instead of 12:36. Oops.
As always, click on the picture to see full size.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Folsom Trail Run Series race #2 (Nimbus Sate Park)

trying to seperate from the pack before we hit the trails... surprised to see the bike that just flew by me was the camera man!
start of the short course
Dave, about 3.9 miles from beervana
less than a mile to go
Hannah keping her self busy during the races
that's Dave right behind 50 feet from the finish
and travelling back in time a couple minutes, Dave tackling the LOG
photos courtesy of breakoutracing.com...and Abby!
Yesterday was race #2 of the 8-race series, and I opted for the long course this time around. That was a good choice, as I ended up over 50 miles for only the third week this year (i'm hoping that becomes more regular). So far there are 199 participants in the series. This one was in Nimbus Flat State Park and offered a 4 (4.8) and 10 (+?) mile race. The long course started first at 9:00, and we had a brief stretch of road before hitting the gravel and dirt. The first couple miles winded through some trees and had a couple bumps, but were fairly easy, especially for a trail race. But, we noticed that as 11, 12, 13 minutes passed, we still hadn't seen the 2 mile turnaround for the 4 milers, who'd be running the short course as part of the longer one. At 14:00 I finally hit the turn. I figured I'd been running between 5:45-6:00 pace, so we figured it was longer than 2 (and a tenth of a mile later there was a 2.5 chalked on the path), which put me at about 5:50 per mile so far, and "comfortably" in the lead, whatever that means. I really liked the second half of the course as the terrain varied a bit from easy hardpack to rocky singletrack, and even some dirt/stone steps on the hill right before we'd turn around. I hit the halway point in 31 & change, and would run the same on the way back, which although took us a different way at the end was about the same distance. There were a couple tight spots as runners were heading in both directions on the windy singletrack, and the hurdling of the giant fallen tree was fun. Dave had started the 4.8 miler 15 minutes after us, and we ended up finishing within ten seconds of each other (how's that for planning). I came in 62:43 officially, and while I didn't have any GPS to get a mileage, I'm hoping it was a little longer than 10.0...I sure felt like I was running 6:00 pace or faster, but who knows. We had a blast either way, and I was able to get a bit of a cushion in the men's standings as 2nd place Bryan Hacker was about 3 minutes behind, and the Negro Bar long course winner was third, another 40 seconds back. The way the scoring works is based on your percentage of the winning time for your sex (the winning time divided by your time is your score) so every second counts. We hung out for a bit afterwards and had Rubios at the park before going into Sacramento to hit up Rubicon Brewing Company & Hoptoberfest!
After two races, there are 28 total runners with 150 points or higher, but lucky for me the majority are female. Of the top 20 overall, 6 are male. Although it will be broken down to age groups at the end, here's the standings as of today...
Male
1-Chris Badolato 200 points
2-Rick Anderson 195.74
3-Ross Mcmahan 195.54
4-Kirk Ferris 194.52
5-Joel Brunkala 158.38
As you can see, tight up top before a big drop from 4th-5th. up to your best 6 scores count, so if you run all 8, you get two mulligans as well. Next race I'm not sure what the plan is as I'm most likely running the Davis Turkey Trot 24 hours before...so either a day off or a short course, most likely. Dave is currently 4th in his age group with 120.51 points. Here's the ladies - much deeper so far.
1-Yvette Ferreira 200
2-Susan Booher 200
3-Cathie Apple 198.58
4-Susan Grinstead 192.41
5-Jenelle Weiner 187.44
15 women at 170+ so far...we hould be in for some good races there.