Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2nd Annual Climb the Legacy (Fight for Air Climb - Reno)

Well, the day came with me feeling good about my overall fitness. I'm about 20-30 seconds faster in a 5k than I was in May of 2009. That would be 4-6 seconds faster in the climb, with everything else being the same, but they were not quite the same. I'd done about 3 times the amount of stair specific training last year, while this spring I had a goal of trying to become consistant with my mileage base. I've acheived that goal, as I just passed 1000 miles for the year during my 12 miler yesterday! I don't even think I hit 1000 miles by June last year. I've also done 70+ miles for 5 straight weeks. The only time I'd ever done that was when I was training for the marathon.
So, I knew I could match last years time, and had hoped to better it by a few seconds, but what ended up happening was I ran less than a second (faster) than my 3:26.8 from last year (3:26.0). It was a weird day. As far as my legs are concerned, I could have (and therefore should have) gone a little harder. You never want to feel like you had anything left at the end of a race. It's a race after all. Why hold back? But in my feeble brain, I was scared of fading over the last few stories, and while I definitely wouldn't say I was comfortable (far from it) I think there was another neglacted gear there. IF I do this event next year, I will not make that little mistake again. As it was, I didn't fade at the top and ran a 3:26 for 1st place (for the second time) by 15 seconds. I waited at the top for the rest of my team (My Drinking Team Has A Running Problem) to finish. The weird thing about this year, and this seems to apply to lots of people, not just me, was that it was even harder on the lungs/chest/throat than previous climbs. While there's always some lung butter, coughing, etc, involved after running up a dusty, poorly ventilated, & often smoky stairwell, this one took the cake...and it was pretty stinking clean! I don't know why, but Dave and I were hacking so much (and for so long) that we were dry heaving emphatically. After my practice runs I'd have a little cough through most of the day, but this was twice as bad as those, and my practice stairwell is far smokier.
Go figure.
Anyway, Ben's family joined Abby & Hannah down on the street and we hung out for a bit, having some fruit and BBQ, waiting for the results. The hardest part about this type of race for a competitive athlete is that you really have no idea where you stand when you finish. Like a time trial on the bike sans radio, so you just have to put the petal to the metal and hope you did enough. No seeing where your competition is. So, we hung out a bit after I got in a nice 4 mile cool-down, giving me 9 for the day & 72.7 for the week. The awards were slated to go off at 12:00 (the climb started at 10), but come 11:59...still tabulating. 12:15...still tabulating. That would become a theme. Some time after 12, we were told the glitch preventing the times from being able to be downloaded to the computer would not be fixed anytime soon, so we went home. Well, we went home after bringing Hannah into the Circus Circus for a bit to ride the tram and play a few games. Gotta keep the little rugrat happy, right? Especially since she'd been so patient in waiting with us. The results were on the site first thing the following morning. 3 guys ran under 4:00, Dave ran a 6:05, and Ben a 6:06. It might be interesting to pit these guys against eachother in a few 5ks. I think Dave's got the definite edge in endurance, but Ben is quickly improving his speed over short-moderate distances. Way to go guys!
Dave and I will be looking into the Sacramento Climb, held in November. It'll be hard for us to sign up for more than one a year, since besides a few of you, our friends are cheap and the fundraising is a pain in the arse. I don't mind doing it at all. It goes to a great cause...I just think I'm gonna be stuck footing the bill one of these times, and I really can't afford to pay $100 for a race that lasts a few minutes. We'd like to both continue to do the local edition, especially since we've done it both years of it's existence, but it's hard to get too excited when the timing has been an issue two years out of two. Third times a charm, though, right??
Next up...two more locals. The Rock-N-River 10k* on Sunday, & the Run-A-Muck relay with Kirk the following Saturday.
*I hope the 10k is a 10k. The half wasn't even close (maybe 12.4-12.5) to being accurate last year. So not too worried about a time goal for that one, I just hope to be competitive.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

prepairing for 3 minutes of pain tomorrow...why, you ask?

36 floors is why! Ouchie.
That's why the good Lord invented elevators.
It'll start hurtin' after a few floors, & oxygen debt will be rearing it's ugly head by the half-way point or so, but that's what racing is all about - pain management, right?
Dave, Ben & I will be lugging our fund-raising heinies up to the 36th floor of Northern Nevada's tallest building for the 2nd annual Climb the Legacy, put on by the American Lung Association. Yes, we are crazy, and yes, Ben will be signing 8 x 10 glossies of himself after he finishes.
Big Thanks to Peter, Jennifer, Amber, Bob & Turi for the generous donations. The rest of you are cheap :)
That is all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

7th Annual Run Rocklin

I've decided you guys can just start calling me three. It seems to be developing into a pattern. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (that's right, Seinfeld is in my blog now...mwa ha ha ha!). Somebody has to take out the fast guys and then watch them blow by, right?
Seriously, though, this was an excellent race. Well run, great layout afterwards, and a nice, well-marked course. But I am still hoping that this recurring pattern of every race I do being deeper than usual just stops. Enough already!

Anyhoo - I toyed with the idea of going to Grass Valley the night before to avoid a two hour drive on race morning. Not that 130 miles is so far, but the body's been cranky and I wanted to avoid it if I could. The down side is that while the race morning trek would've been an hour or less, the drive (after work) the night before would've been nearly two hours itself. Since I wasn't travelling with anyone this time (the wife & kid+ stayed home, and my race buddies were in San Diego enjoying some world-class beers) I couldn't justify the cost of even a cheap hotel, so I ended up leaving the house just before 5 a.m. for the solo drive to Rocklin. Not so bad once the sun started to come up, but man was it a chore to stay awake before that. Anyway, by the time I got there at 7, I was more awake, & had plenty of time to walk around & work the kinks out before I'd have to warm-up. My experience started off rocky, as I heard the person in front of me being told that they were out of large shirts. Already? There wasn't a whole lot of people there yet, & large seems to be a pretty regular size, right? So I pondered the point of signing up ahead of time & filling out your shirt size if they'll all be gone looooong before everyone gets theirs anyway. Lucky for me, a medium fits just fine. So I get up to the table, give them my name. The bibs/chips are in alphabetical order, and matched to a corresponding #. Mine was 42. 42 was not there. So I asked if I should go back to my car & get my active.com confirmation from the 5th. Nope...they looked on the master and my name was there, but my number and chip were gone. So somehow, somebody ended up with my chip & number, but they were on it. Within two minutes, I had a new # & chip, and my info was changed in the computer. That was fast! I can only imagine the insuing calamity at some of the less "organized" runs I've been to.
So never having ran this particular race, I set out to warm-up on the course about 35 minutes before race time. A couple rollers, one sustained for a quarter mile around the mile mark, but really nothing serious. I think actually the rough condition of one of the roads in the middle mile made more a difference than the few small hills. OK...goals intact now that I know the course could be fast..."A" 15:59 - "B" 16:09. I thought either of those may just win it, but, well, you already know how that went.

When the gun went off, there were alot of young'ns sprinting up front, but a couple that looked like they knew what they were doing. When the sprinters faded, though, there was still a large pack up front. Probably about 10 through the first few minutes of the race. We'd just start to spread out by mile one. I was one second off the leader, with a 5:06 split, and was 5th out of a tight-knit pack of seven or eight. The first "hill" spread things out further. A leader (the eventual winner) pulled away by just a couple seconds, and I traded back and forth between 2nd & 4th with a couple of William Jessup U. cross country guys. Mile 2 was a 10:22 split. Struggling a bit, but still holding a decent (if slightly off goal) pace. I was squarely in third now, with the leader pulling away and 2nd with a few seconds gap on me. I made up no ground on him until my final kick, which maybe I should've started earlier, but I was hurtin'. I finished one second behind him with a 16:08, and 12 second off the lead. Just close enough that I wonder what I could have done different in training or during the race to pull it off. We had, however, pulled away from the rest of the pack, as there was a 23 second gap between 3 & 4.

By the time I changed shoes and was heading out on the course backwards for a cool-down, the 12k leaders were coming in. There was an Auburnian Kenyan woman in the field that was a sub 33 10k runner, but she must have had an off day, as she finished behind a couple of guys that can't run that fast. The leader smoked the course, and I think missed the record by a couple seconds, in 38 minutes and change, with two more under 40 before the field started to thin.
So, all in all, a good day. For my $27 entry fee, I got a race, a tech shirt, 2 slabs of rock (one for 3rd overall & one for the AG win), a slice of pizza, 2 bottles of water, 2 cups of coffee (to keep me awake for the drive home), a fudgecicle and a rootbeer flavored popsicle, a banana, and an apple. Good deal, no? AND...$25 for 3rd overall - although I may have been duly inspired for a better kick if I'd remembered at that monent that 2nd place got $50! I would recommend this race in a heartbeat to anyone looking to add one to their calendar. Decent field size too...13 or 1400 in the 5k, and 600+ in the 12k. Thanks to the massive amount of volunteers that helped w/this one - they were great. I am also now justified (and then some) for racing as much as i do. I ran into Greg Mandler, a super-nice guy that Dave & I met during the Folsom Trail series. I've been running into him al ot, and now I know why. Not only does he have a streak of racing EVERY weekend since March...of 2008!...during the busy seasons he'll often run twice in a weekend, and has either raced 100 times in a year, or is well on his way to doing it this year! Holy crap. Makes my "high" of 33 from 2000 seem just downright wussy.

Recovery is ok...lots of...er...let's go with "lung butter" today during my 10 miler, & that was before a shot up the crusty ol' stairwell. I don't think I'll stop coughing anytime soon, but on my fifth try this year (as opposed to at least 3 times that in '09) and just 25 hours after racing, I was able to match my best time up to the 29th floor of the Circus Circus, with the stairclimb race only a week away. In the last month, i've gone up untimed (but slow), 2:28, 2:17, 2:14, & 2:13 today! Like I said in my last post, I'd love to pop off a 2:0-something, but there's just no time. I did manage the 2:13 at the end of a 9.1 mile easy trail run and an addition mile on the road. So I'm hoping to take a few seconds of last year's time, but that was a good race for me last year, so we'll have to wait & see on that one.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hello, stairwell, my old friend...

Well, the 2nd annual Climb the Legacy is coming up in 10 days. We've got chip timing this year, and the race is a couple weeks earlier, so the firefighters won't have to get all geared up in 90 degree heat (45 is more likely).
At this time last year, I was just getting into racing shape, after a layoff, but had done quite a bit of stair-specific training, including the waaaaaay bigger (taller) than the Silver Legacy Climb California San Fran. It took getting my arse kicked on that one to kick my training into high gear, and from that point through the first half of June, I got in a ton of climbing, and my other race times started dropping as well.
Fast forward 11 months or so. My running fitness (and therefore shorter race times) has been better than it was in April/May of last year since late last fall. While I was just getting under 17:00 last April, I've run 16:10 and the road and am hoping to go lower. What I haven't been doing as much year, though, is climbing stairs - and since my "normal" races & training has been going fairly well, I'm not really willing to do so. BUT...I have gone up the practice run 3 times in the last couple weeks, hoping my better overall fitness would compensate for my lack of specific training. At first I wasn't so sure. I (barely) managed a 2:28, as opposed to a 2:13 last year. In addition to the fact that i was sore for several days after, which I'd hoped to avoid by only going up 1 1/2 times as opposed to 2, 15 seconds is A LOT when you're only going for a couple minutes! Well, the day after Zoo Zoom, I was back at it. Not expecting much, although my legs were ok for the day after a 10k. 2:17! Reheheally??? Well that's a nice surprise. Maybe there's hope after all. After a Wednesday interval workout, I ran just under 8 1/2 miles at an easy-moderate pace, mostly trail, & met Dave at the well, again not expecting much. I think the longbutnottoofast runs beforehand actually insure I'm properly warmed-up, but I would be be affected by the prior day's hard run, so again, not expecting much. Familiar burn just after half way...2:14! Hmmm. Only one second off my '09 best after a hard day. Gotta be encouraged about that. I'm not recovering well at all, but I've got two more days til my next 5k. I'll go back Monday, & possibly one more Thursday, depending on how the week unfolds. I'd really love to pop one off, like say, a 2:09 - to get my head where I'd like it to be. Days as rough as today have you questioning all kinds of things...

Monday, April 12, 2010

(2 FER 1) Trail Less Traveled Quarter Marathon AND Zoo Zoom 10k

4/4 at the start...i look like i need to poo because he's going too fast already!
After warming up with the 5k, then imploring Rich not to run me into the ground. Didn't work. 40 yds in... 3.11 miles in...hurtin too early

Wavin' Dave

At least I didn't swalow my gum this time

Dave finishing strong

Hannah @the line making fun of me. Point & laugh dear, point & laugh


Houston, we have a problem.

either celebrating or stretching...

she was putting in some more miles after the race...

Nathan & Hannah on the snake slide

Dang, that Sacramento Zoo has some funky lookin' kangaroos

Why two races in 1 post? Because I'm laaaaazy! Mwa ha ha ha. I hope the 2.7 of you that will read this are not too disappointed in me.

3rd Annual Trail Less Travelled

We actually found a race on Easter morning, and hit the trails near Lake Oroville on 4-4, much to my delight. I've been having a tiny run of bad luck lately. Nothing that couldn't be fixed by me running faster, but many of the races I've done lately are just downright faster than usual. Example, you ask? Well...in Portland, my time would've been good for 3rd-5th the last few...I got 7th. At Bidwell, 2nd or 3rd...I got fifth. In the last two races, it was a combination of the race being faster than recent years & just picking the wrong distance to win. In Lake Oroville, the top 3 or 4 guys ran a pace (for 6.55 miles with a BIG hill) faster than the winning 5k pace. Oh well. The "Quarter" marathon was cooler. Better views, and a kick a## downhill. This was only the third year, so when I scoped the results, I thought I had a shot to win. The 2009 CR was out of my reach (high 36) but the '08 winning time was 39 & change. I could do that...

I hate to admit it, but I pretty much knew the race was over before it began, barring earth shattering events. As we got out of the car, a familiar face jogged by. David Mosier, whom I ran with til he dropped me, in the Redding Marathon, who also happened to be said CR holder for this run, and he's just plain faster than me. Dang nabbit!! Oh well...just gotta go out there and put the hammer down. Try as I might, and I did for a couple minutes anyway, I just couldn't keep up, so by the time we got to the base of "the hill" (dun dun duuuuuun) I was already in no man's land between 1st & 3rd. Did I mention I suck on hills? Kinda my weakness this year - although I'm in better overall shape than 2009 - due to the nature of my injuries, and subsequent avoidance of serious hill training. So, I dragged my butt up the steep mile long climb, losing ground every step, and when I got to the top and made a sharp right, I saw I was no longer in no man's land, because I'd gone slow enough to allow third place to close the gap to about 10 yards. FRICK! Luckily for me, my forte is speed on downhills, and that's what came next. I was able to put the hammer down from mile 3-4.5, and maintain pretty good from there to the end, to finish comfortably in second by almost a minute, but more than 1:40 back from the leader, in 38:40. It ended up being a great training day, though. With a longish warm-up and longer cool-down (with David M) on the course and other side of the lake, I got in 14 1/2 miles, which is my longest day since January. Dave was happy enough with his run as well (though the hill sucked for him too), finishing 52nd in 68:11 & we headed back to Grass Valley for Easter festivities.

30th Annual Zoo Zoom 10k

4/11 was another shot at a 33 minute 10k, after dropping the ball at Davis in February. This was another race too, that was possibly winable...unless somebody showed up & broke the course record & stuff, but that wouldn't happen, right? Right?

Yeah, not so much. Not only did the CR fall, it fell in angry weather. The rain held off til later in the day, but there were some strong winds out there, & the winner was not running with anyone after the first couple minutes (I tried again but it just ain't workin, runnin with these faster guys) to break the wind. He ended up running...wait for it...31:21...on a windy course. Alone! That's 5:03 per mile, for those keeping score. My A goal this year is to hold a 5:20 pace...which would give me a low 33-, but my "if I can run this I won't be pissed" goal for the race was 33-something. 33:01 is splendid, but 33:59 would do. Just a 33. I feel it prudent to mention the starter told us the winner of the 5k, which had gone off 35 minutes prior, ran 17 minutes. Double FRICK!! It was actually just under, but c'mon. I'm a competitive guy, but I've been winning less lately, and I miss it. Oh well. I didn't know there was a 31 minute guy in the field, & the winning time the last two years in the 10k had been 35 minutes, but who is this I see - Rich Hanna, who pulled away from me in the last mile of the Bidwell Classic. Well, that was a decent race, but there was room for improvement. I'm confident in my training, just not my consistency, and it didn't help that I spent the first two hours after bedtime on the floor the night before, rather than trying to squeeze onto a queen size bed with my pregnant wife and squirming, won't closehermouthandjustgotosleep 3 year old. Seriously...ON THE FLOOR. When the movement & jabber stopped a while later, I was still wide awake, and squeezed onto the bed, staying as close to the edge as possible, to avoid Hannah'd piston-like feet. They're usually not so bad once she falls asleep, but when you have insomnia, it doesn't take much to keep you up all night. We're gonna have to rethink this next time we stay in a hotel.

Anyway, I said hi to Rich and Steve Bond, from Grass Valley, & we were off. Neither of them, though, reminded me this wasn't a 5k, though, & although I didn't know it at the time, I took off at 5k pace to keep the leader close. Which worked! For a mile. Running a 5:09 opening mile in a 10k (in a headwind) didn't effect my time much, although I'd venture a guess that if I'd run the first mile 10 seconds slower, each mile after would've been 4-5 seconds faster, but it sure made the remaining 5.2 a sufferfest that I wouldn't wish to repeat. I maintained semi-respectable splits, and came through the 5k in 16:42. Rich would catch me within a couple minutes on loop two, even encouraging me to stick with him (Have I mentioned what a good guy Rich is? He's a good guy!) but that only worked for a couple more minutes. As I faded in the wind, I was caught and passed for fourth place, athough I mustered some kind of response this time and didn't let him pull away. He got a gap on me a couple times, including with a mile left when one of his buddies yelled "take off the cruise control and make a move" and he did. Triple FRICK!!! He just took off, which made me think he had been toying with me. Kinda demoralizing when you're struggling, but then not long after, the gap wasn't getting bigger. Maybe even a stride smaller here and there. Check the watch. Still can get under 34 and salvage a respectable time if I pull my head out of my butt. The 6 mile sign did the trick. I'd developed a cramp trying to keep up with Steve, who was about 20 yards or so in front of me. It's hard to maintain a fast pace with a side cramp, but you can go for short bursts if you are willing to suffer, so when I saw that sign a couple hundred feet ahead, I just went. I passed him quickly but was waiting for another burst from him. I ran scared from mile 6-6.21, as you can see from the bug-eyed wide-mouthed (I needed AIR!) picture that Abby got 100 feet from the finish, and I eneded up getting 3rd back by 5 seconds, and finishing 12 seconds behind Rich, with a 33:44 (although I could have sworn the clock read 33:40 as I crossed). 5:26 per mile...6 seconds per mile to go and 2010 officially kicks heiny. Dave finished 268th out of 620 finishers with a 58:15, and Steve Bond ran another in a series of strong races, finishing 24th in 40:47!

Next up was a series of kids runs, with Hannah in the first of four, with the 4 & under crowd. We started up front, which may have been a bad idea, as Hannah takes a few seconds to respond to the gun or horn. She just kinda stands there and giggles as the kids all around her take off. But I was right behind her, camera in hand, and we sprinted about 40 feet before she was trampelled. That's the red blur pic I included up top, which I'm sure would have been a great action photo. After the carnage, which didn't phase her at all, I ran with her hand in one hand, and the camera in the other, as we were know surrounded by the flock. She loved every second of it, and even got a medal AND a race t-shirt for her troubles, as well as free admission to the zoo.

The Biggs's's's's from 3 doors down were planning on meeting us at the zoo if the weather held, and they got there just a few minutes after Hannah finished. We started to look for the awards ceremony for the 10k, which was in the zoo, and ended up getting the 8 of us in for free, although only three of us raced. OK, I now officially take 1 1/2 of the 3 fricks back. So, we got to see most of the zoo before the weather got really nasty, then proceeded to a new beer spot, just up I-5.

Brew It Up, which is a combination brewery-pub-brew it yourself personal brewery (there was a group there starting up a batch as we ate), well...rocks. Good food. Good service. Solid beers across the board (and we shared 20!). Even a couple styles that I usually don't get very excited about were standouts...the California Common and the Pale Ale. The big boys didn't disappoint either, as the Russian Imperial Stout, Barleywine, & Imperial IPA were three of their best.

So...next up in another string of races is the Run Rocklin 5k. I suppose me putting that in print is going to make a team of 15 minute 5k guys show up, but there it is anyway. Should be fun. I will not, however, be bothering with the pre-race hotel this time. Just a Sunday day trip, followed by Climb the Legacy 4/25. Must - run - faster!