Sunday, June 20, 2010

trying a new approach...Burton Creek Trail Runs

not on purpose, really. Mr. Nathan Biggs turned 5 and had his party at Rock Sport last night. I worked yesterday and shot over to the party right after. Consequently, my pre-race dinner consisted off McDonalds, Twizzlers, birthday cake...and Gatorade. Gotta stay hydrated, right? Ironically, me and Dave were theorizing about the effects of a fast food pre-race meal on the way back to Reno last week! That's Hannah above during her first foray into rockclimbing.
We got to the first Big Blue Adventure of the year (The Burton Creek Trail runs) outside of Tahoe City just after 8, and Kirk and I got back to the line just as they were getting ready to head out. This year, they had a 5k (3.47 miles) a 10k (6.95) a half (12.45) and a marathon (25).
Team Library Dork was once again in full force. Turi was the only one to man up and do the half, with Dave, Amber and I in the 11-12 K. Kirk was in the, oh, lets say 6k, and we did about the first 1.2 miles of the course before turning around, trying to follow the end of the course, losing it, heading back the way we came, and getting to the start 2 minutes before go time.
All distances took off at 9, and immediately started a long but fairly mellow climb. Kirk and I, along with an 18 year old 5k runner and Peter Fain, eventual half champ, started to seperate pretty quickly. We climbed up some single and double track to a watertower, hung a right, headed back down a little, and crossed a short dam (with a break in the middle), then got on some crazy winding singletrack for a bit. The young runner went by and me and Kirk just tucked in behind him. He wasn't willing to lead on the big climb (which came up pretty quick) so he relinquished the short-lived lead back to me with Kirk right behind. We started to pull away a little on the hill, and for the remainder of the flatish sections at the top. Here's where it got interesting, though. With a big lead, and the two of us running together (I'd say comfortably, but the aforementioned pre-race meal was wreaking havoc on my innards in the form of multiple side and stomach cramps) the pace bike (which hadn't let the whole time but at most of the turns) stopped. Within 30 seconds we came to the part of the course where the arrows had stopped during our warm-up. We figured we just hadn't gone far enough to see them. We were wrong. We went straight as all the arrows (which were all on the right side of the double-wide trail) went straight. After those three, nothing for nearly a minute-and-a-half. After some PG-13 cursing, we turned around, figuring we were both screwed spotting our competition a 3 minute lead. Well...we saw the back of the arrow for the missed left turn, not only on the other side of the trail, but it had been placed 15 feet or so off the trail, so you'd have to have already made the left to see it, or have known it was right there. So, we finished hard and came through the staging area (the end of the first loop/short course) with only the one kid having come through already, maybe a minute-and-a-half before.
The wrong turn having cost Kirk the win, I'd talked Kirk into pacing me for the second loop, but by the time he got through the chute and started back up the hill, we could see that may be difficult. I slowed a bit to see if he'd catch-up and to give my cramps a rest (which worked) but at the water tower, he went backwards up the back half of the course. I ran a hardish workout pace for the first 2/3 of the second loop, not willing to risk all the cramps returning unless I was being challenged for the lead. Me and Kirk met back up near the top of the singletrack and that was enough (along with the rolling downhills) to pick up the pace a bit. The cramps threatened, but never fully returned. I felt better about my own navigation skills, but sorry for everyone else, when Kirk told me there was a fairly large number of people that he'd pointed the right way just as they were heading straight and missing the poorly marked left, same as us. We ran together for another minute, then I mustered a bit of a kick, so I wouldn't get my man card revoked for slacking off between 3.5-5.5 miles. In the end, I came through 1st in 48 & change for what ended up as a high altitude 12k.
The course was pretty stinkin sweet, so we headed back out for one more loop as a cooldown. By the end, I was glad I'd decided against the half. At about mile 11 or 12, my IT band flaired up again (the Achilles was already pissed but manageable) forcing me to walk a little over the last mile - but we made it back, stuck around for a little BBQ, bean bag toss (we sucked) and awards. I wish the kid who "won" the 5k would have had the integrity to give Kirk 1st like Eric at the /Veggie Chase a few weeks ago. Alas, it was not to be. Not a word, even though he wouldn't have been close. No worries Kirk, you killed the course. An extra 700 never helps, though. Kirk's Dad even ran, and did well (2nd AG) in the short course!
Amber and Dave both finished second in their age groups in the 10k, with Turi finishing third in his in the half. Go TLD!!
We drove a few minutes back to Commons Beach in Tahoe City, unwilling to get all the way in, but soaking the legs and chillin on the beach for a bit. The weather ended up perfect for running...high 40's in the a.m. and low 60's when we left. Lunch at the goodbutoverpricedwithquestionableservice 50 50 Brewing in Truckee, and back home. Barring a miracle in PT, this is it for me. The walking of the cooldown cemented that. Who knows what the fall will bring, though. If you'd asked me any of the previous summers I had to re-retire if I though I'd be running PRs in 2010, I'd have asked if I could have some of whatever you were smokin, and the first six months of this year were great, despite working through more than one injury. I'll keep y'all posted...
da start
loop 1, just before i learned that i still had the lead
da finish

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fitch Mountain Footrace II

Actually, it was the 36th Annual, but the second time for me. Last year I went to Healdsburg and Santa Rosa with my wife and the Biggs's's's's. This time, it was Team Library Dork's turn to paint the town(s) red. Turi & I drove over Saturday afternoon, slightly delayed in our arrival by the unfruitful quest to find him a new running hat. We were in our room & relaxing by 5 p.m. though...well, Turi in the room, me at the pool, as it was about 90 in San Rafael.
Our quest took us to the New Balance outlet in Vacaville, where only ladies buy hats, apparently. However, we ran into John Ostezan, who was the captain of my Odyssey team in 2008, and who joined us on the TRT that fall. Fresh off the 2010 Odyssey, he (along with Paul Miers & his wife) were travelling to a race the following day as well, just not the same one as us. They were all running the (recently featured in Runner's World) Dipsea, but in a weird coincidence, were stating at the same hotel we were. So when they all got checked in, I was retrieved from the pool, and we went with them to the same italian pizza joint they went to before last year's race. At the risk of having our man card's suspended, Turi & I split a beer (so as not to test the sip-per-second theory, which originated on this same trip in 2009). I think it was safe to enjoy 6 ounces of light italian lager with a meal without the race being affected, but if you think it slowed us, please feel free to subtract 6 seconds from Turi's & my times. We don't mind. The pizza was quite good, and the conversation quite entertaining...and it's nice to know I'm not the most immature person I know (thanks guys!!). Back at the hotel, I went out to get some hot-tub therapy before settling in. Dave & Amber showed a little after 9, and we watched highlights and made fun of Kobe Bryant before calling it a night.

Sounds of the "A" Team awoke us at 5:something and we slowly joined the land of the living. We were on the road to Healdsburg (49 miles north) just after 6, and there are ready to go by 7. As much as I've grown to like this race, the T-shirts are about as attractive as Tom Arnold in a speedo (for the second straight year). Maybe Hannah needs a nightgown??? Anywho...last year I was unfamiliar with the course, but thought I could remember it this time around, & did 2 laps of the 3k course as a warm-up. My recent resurfacing of chronic issues manifested in my right hamstring of all places the night before the race, and made me hope the race would not come down to a sprint finish. Even walking around it was tight enough to pull back on the knee and hip (in opposing directions). Stretching only made it angry. Oh well - running at warm-up speed felt ok, but as I did a couple strides, I could feel there would be no top gear today. That usually is fine. If you're running too much faster than race pace, then you didn't pace too well anyway, right? So the plan was to go out at the pace I wanted to average so not having much of a kick wouldn't matter.

At 8:00 we were off. Me in the 3k, the rest of TLD in the 10k, but we all started together. After going up for a block, we veered right, and over a couple more rollers, while the 10k continued straight out and around Fitch Mountain and the Russian River. No sprinters in the field this time, but I didn't take the lead for about a half mile. By that first turn, Peter Egerton & myself had seperated from the pack as well as the 10k leaders. I'd pass on the second little uphill and just tried to push the pace from there on out. We ran by a Relay for Life at one of the local schools, and had a gentle downhill about a half mile before the end. I'm glad I had a comfortable lead by then because juuust where I'd have liked to drop the hammer and push on the downhill, I didn't have another gear. I think I went fast enough to sustain my pace and tried to pick it up as I rounded the last corner and saw the finish. I'd end up running 9:15 (9:29 last year) and as far as I can tell, that's the CR. Peter finished 21 seconds back, with nobody else under 10:00.
After a shoe change and short cooldown, I just missed Turi's 10k finish in 47 minutes, but did manage to get back onto the homestretch to cheer on Dave & Amber & snap a couple pics. Sorry I slacked on the pacing duties guys, but that hammie was pissed.

They were pretty quick with the results (which are posted below) and after the awards we had a little time to kill before Bear Republic Brewing Company (part of the reason I've run this race two straight years!) opened at 11:00. We passed the time climbing trees, eating a killer breakfast pizza (yep, same one as last year...bacon, egg, asiago cheese, & my good buddy Herb. Sometimes, change is bad.) and some juice and coffee. We were the first one's in, & had a tasty lunch before heading back to the hotel for some sun pool-side. We were finally able to find Turi a men's running hat at the outlets in Petaluma on our way to Santa Rosa for dinner at Russian River BC. The beer was outstanding, and the pizza greasy & cheesy...which I'd pay for later but it was sooooo worth it. We even managed an awesome (but too short) trail run at China Camp state park before lunch at Marin BC in Larkspur the following day. All in all, a fun & succesful trip for TLD!
I think the good ol' Achilles may be past the point of no return. I've already dropped my miles down into the 50's the last two weeks after 10 weeks of 76 miles per, but things feel worse than before, so this week I'm skipping the runs & seeing what happens. If a long break seems imminent I'd like to get one more trail run in (Big Blue Adventure Burton Creek) on Sunday before going into yet another shut-down mode, just as the weather is getting nice. I'll keep y'all posted...
Here's a link to Sunday's results-

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hit the Road Jack 2.2 miler & 10k

We started at the Plaza, and passed Sebastiani Winery a few minutes in.
Funny how the universe has a way of correcting itself to maintain balance, right?
Remember the awesome deal we got on last weekend's hotel? Well, universe, we're even now. Are you happy? Seriously, if you find yourself staying overnight in Vacaville for whatever reason, steer clear of the Best Western. I was happy that we got an $80 room for $51, but my goodness, what a dump! The only positive on this 93 degree day would've been the pool, but of course, it was closed. We were hit with a wall of heat when we opened the door to our room, and after leaving for over an hour (with the "air conditioner" on full blast the whole time) it was maybe a couple degrees cooler. If you were more than a foot away from the AC, you wouldn't be able to tell it was on, except for the louder than normal whirring of the motor. You got used to the noise, til it clumsily shut off a couple times in the middle of the night, only to start up again 20 or 30 minutes later. Good stuff!! I think the room was habitable by the time the alarm went off in the morning, but alas, it was time to leave the oasis that is the Vacaville "Best" Western...never to return.
It took about 45 minutes to get to Sonoma Plaza at around 7 a.m. Cool place. It was a little eerie how much this place (and the race itself) reminded me of the Fitch Mountain Foot Race (in Healdsburg this coming Sunday). They both start on a street lining the town square in the northern Califirnia wine country. Both have gently rolling hills that run you close to vineyards and surrounding neighborhoods, and both have a 10k and an abnormal distance short course (this one was 2.2 miles, next week is a 3k). Dave had pre-reg'd for the 10k & I signed up that morning for the short one, with my sights on the course record of 11:12, just a touch faster than my recent 5k pace. I managed to find the course and warmed up on it, and while it wasn't flat, there was no major climbing, and just one slow spot towrds the end of the first mile. Getting under 11 minutes would take a really good day, but 11:12 shouldn't be too bad. From what Dave said, the 10k course was similar with the major uphill around mile 4, which he said did him in quite nicely. For the second straight week, someone took off like they were running an 800. Probably even faster than last week. You can tell, though, the difference between, say, me running a 4 1/2 minute mile pace, and a Kenyan running a 4 1/2 minute mile pace. While it would be obvious to even the casual observer that I am sprinting, the Kenyans look relaxed at that pace, so you know they can hold it. The guy in the front was sprinting. He was older than the teens & kids who always seem to go out too fast, but there's no way he's gonna hold this pace. Right?
Well, it only took about a minute or so for the gap to stop getting bigger, and in another minute, he was getting passed by myself and a High School runner or three. I didn't see exactly where he finished, not knowing his name, but he was already feeling the pace less than a half mile in. I'd take the lead from the young'n around the half mile mark and tried to push up and over the hill without over exerting myself. The pace wasn't feeling too hard, but I was tighter than usual, so I wanted to be careful. Being careful, though, likely caused me to not accomplish my main objective of running under 5:00 pace. I slowed just enough when there was nobody pushing right behind me and I didn't kick til the 2/6 mile mark. I crossed the line in (I thought) 11:01, and rounded up to 11:02...and ended up with an official 11:04. Still 8 seconds ahead of the 11-year-old course record. Second was about 23-24 seconds back, and third about a minute. Over in the 10k, 34:19 took home the gold, and was also a semi-local HS runner. After a quick shoe change, I went back out on the course and came across Angela running with the stroller, and her and Larry D's son Max. This was about a mile-and-a-half in and he hadn't walked yet. He's FIVE! I took the opportunity to pace him back and had a blast. He even had a kick at the end, just like dear old Dad. Larry was next. I turned back around, and saw Larry almost in the same spot. I paced him as well, and he was closing the gap on the runner ahead of him, but the kid had quite a kick at mile 6. Larry finished 10th right around 39 minutes. Next up was Dave, who I caught up with right around mile 5. It appeared he'd paced himself pretty well, and traded back and forth with a few runners before coming in just over 57 minutes.
We stuck around for a bit for the awards...had some food...just enjoyed the sun, but we had a prior engagement. With Moylan's Brewing Co. in Novato. C'mon now. Don't act surprised. i know we were in wine country and all, but this is a mighty fine brewery. Did I mention they've got 19 taps running? Can you guess how Dave & I found this out?
Anyway...a fun race that I'd like to run in the future (maybe the 10k?).
I don't know what it is about June, but yet again (for the 4th time in 5 years) my body seems to be breaking down. It seemed like this year would be different, especially since May was possibly the best month of training and racing I've ever had. Go figure. My Achilles is still quite problematic, but if that was all, I could handle it...but my ligaments and joints, especially both IT bands and knees, seem to have suddenly lost all elasticity and are quite painful. So...still planning on Fitch Mountain on Sunday, but another involuntary break from running seems more than likely. Not too happy with it, not that having another baby and simultaneously losing my #1 stress relief option (which becomes an added sorce of stress when I'm injured) has we worried at all!!! I have a feeling that there may not be a better option, though, as my times creep upward with the pain level, and the enjoyment and sheer pleasure from testing the ol' body begins to wane.
We'll see...