Monday, January 17, 2011


The subtitle of this post henceforth shall be "delayed on-set muscle soreness sucks: what happens when you are not in shape and try to run fast even though you are really a 9-year-old girl" or in short, my first race of 2011.
Luckily, I had a teammate for this one. Cap'n Kirk and I drove to Redding Saturday night in time to meet his ladyfriend (who's waaaaaaay too good lookin' for him) and her Mom at Olive Garden for a good pre-race meal. We were running the Redding Marathon Relay the following morning. This may be the only race I've run three of the last four years, but it's just run so well and it's a cool course. I ran the marathon as a practice run for Napa in 2008, and even though I went out easy, I didn't drink enough and still hit the wall at mile 21. I skipped 2009 due to injury, but ran the first two legs of the relay (19.5 miles, with Dave doing the last) in 2010. An always cool, well-run race had me planning on coming back for the 5k, but late last year Kirk and I decided the relay would be more fun. After that, 2010 took a long walk off a short pier. For me anyway. I was struggling to run 30 seconds per mile slower than in May/June, and that was before I got the flu the last week of the year, and a nice recurence of last year's knee pain. That little bug pretty much sapped all the little gains I'd had over the previuos 12 weeks and had me running worse than I was in the early fall, right after a 12 week break.
This affected nothing but the pace I thought I'd be able to run. When in top shape, I think sub-60 would be the goal on this course, maybe a 58-59. I had hoped to be in the 64 minute range before the flu hit. Now? I had no idea. I'd tried but hadn't been able to hold 6 minute pace for very long in training, and hadn't been able to do anywhere near 11 miles either. I was feeling a little better as race day neared, but had no mental-boosting workout to fall back on. We soaked in the Holiday Inn hot-tub after Olive Garden, and I slept pretty darn good, especially for me. The beds were comfy enough that I wanted to curse at the alarm when it went off at 6:00. Kirk got his waffle at the hotel restaurant, and thanks to the ever-accurate directions given to us by the ass-clowns at googlemaps, we almost missed my shuttle to the start at the Shasta Dam.
As opposed to last year, when we started in the dark, fog, and rain, the sun was out and the skies clear when the gun went off at 8:00, and the weather was near perfect. I'd shared with Kirk the night before that one of two things would happen...I'd go out aggressive on the downhill start (3 of the first 3.5 miles) and die a horrible death later, or be a pansy and let people go right from the gun. As it was, only one guy took off like a bat outta hell, and he was a marathoner, not a relay runner. As Kirk noted on his blog, this guy would pay dearly for his breakneck pace later, as he had to stop en route more than once and would not finish anywhere near the leaders. Heck, I hit the first downhill mile in 5:25, which made my sphinchter do a little moonwalk up into my colon when I saw the watch, but I pressed on. That was easily my fastest mile. "Breakneck" as I'll call him, must have been 5:15 on that first mile, and would be just under a minute ahead of me by the time I got to Kirk at mile 11. I'd bank about 99 seconds under 6:00 pace by mile 4, but had a cramp by then and proceeded to chip away at that 99 seconds each mile between 4-10, hitting 60:11 at mile 10, & having slowed to 6:20-6:25 for each mile between 7-10. I ran around 6 flat pace for the last mile, and sped up when I noticed I was being reeled in from behind. I got to the exchange (just shy of 11 miles) right as the watch turned to 66:00 and Kirk took off.
I knew his first couple miles would be the toughest. They did pave the 12-13 miles of all legs that were trail, but hills are still hills. However, he got to the second exchange, where we were waiting with cowbells, in 1:57 and change. I had just said anything under 2 hours and we're golden when he came flying around the corner and into sight. A little quick math in the head told me he'd kept the pace juuuust over 6 minutes per over the hardest part of the course! If he hadn't expended too much to do so, our time would exceed our goal by several minutes. I ran with him for a minute or two, and he sure didn't seem to be slowing. We drove to the bridge and waited. At 2:30, I trotted across the bridge to see him and ran with him for a little out and back section, with cowbell in hand. We didn't know how long this section was, or at least I didn't, but when we made the turn, it became clear we'd easily be in the 2:30's, and we sped up to the finish.
2:37:39 at the line gave us the same 6:01 pace we'd been at since mile 10...the only difference was I ran 11 miles of downhill, flat, and a touch of rolling at that pace. Kirk ran 15.2 miles with a couple miles of actual hills at that pace! Way to go buddy!!! You're making me look good, though I am releived I exceeded my 9-year-old girl expectations. We ended up chopping 9 minutes off the relay record, were 8 minutes ahead of the first marathoner and 13 minutes in front of the #2 relay team.
As I eluded to in the title, I'm more than a tad sore today (and yesterday...probably tomorrow too), more like after a full marathon, or playing football without pads, but I'll deal with it. This was the best run I've had since I've been sick, but I've still got a lot of work to do, so hopefully I can start to build a little momentum. Lots of fun races coming, and I'd prefer not to get slaughtered.
Pictures coming soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Year In Review

Sometimes, the year felt like that, but here's the skinny for an eventful 2010 -
miles run 2,088 (1525 the first 6 months, 563 mile 2nd half)
weights lifted (sets) 6,195 (2608/3587)
races 28 (22/6)
wins 17 (13/4)
course records 10 (8/2) though many of these were "young"races and no big'uns
The "other" 11 were: 2nd place x 4, 3rd place x 4, 4th, 5th and 7th.
Favorites...let's see...hard to say...
*The Shamrock Run (7th) in March was an awesome race, and an even better trip. Portland is beer Mecca, along with San Diego, and Dave and I took advantage, and had a sweet hotel, walking distance to the race start, to boot.
*Avenue of the Vines (CR) - gotta include this one, my first PR at an established distance in a looooong time. Unfortunately, the pain started the next day.
There were lots of other cool events that I traveled to (Bidwell Classic, Fitch Mountain) and locals, like the Run-A-Muck, that were a blast as well! No races in Nevada City/Grass Valley for the firs time in a few years, which was weird.
Of course, I wish the monentum gained in May could have continued through June and beyond, but it was not to be. 5 1/2 weeks in "das boot" and 12+ weeks total with no running at all. A new approach with PT and more stability work after resting up has not produced the results I'd like, so 2011 is a big, fat question mark, but I hope to remain active, if a bit more...sloth-like.
I already managed to skip one race, but am signed up for 11 miles of the Redding Marathon Relay on January 16th...will hopefully do 1 more in January...Davis, SF coast, and Snowshoeing in February, then we'll evaluate where I am and go from there.
Oh yeah, Abby popped out another kidlet (I KNOW!). I'm pretty sure this one's mine.
And...I may have tried more new beers in 2010 than any year prior. Friday I will rate my 2,000th beer (I've probably had a few more than that but haven't rated all the swill I had back in the day). Close, though. I'd like to trade a little beer tasting for more running in 2011, but they DO go so well together!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Coyote Ridge Trail Run

i'm hiding from the cameras...

Last Sunday, Cap'n Kirk, Dave and I left from the Verdi library at just after 3 a.m. to do a trail run at Muir Beach. I'd been feeling remorse about skipping the Holiday Classic in Sacramento the week before, and I really wanted another competition before the year's end. However, on the previous Thursday, I became suddenly and intensely ill whilst playing Santa at the Sierra View Library. At first, I chalked it up to pushing too hard in a 5k time trail/interval workout that morning. It was my first time under 17:00 since June (16:57) and was followed by 4 x 400 at just over 70 per, plus weights. I was toast, but by the end of Santa time I was feverish, shaky, already sore, and had an upset stomach. Through the rest of the day, however, I seemed to get better as I ate, which to me seemed to back up the fact that I wasn't sick, I just pushed too hard.
I was wrong.
I did manage to get up to meet Turi for a road run the next morning. I figured my legs would be trashed, but we weren't planning on running fast. He was scheduled for 11, and I hoped to do 7 or 8 with him. We did 12. Still thought I was improving, though. For several hours after the run I felt better than I had, but by night time, had the cold sweats and all the acompanying fun.
Christmas day, from a physical standpoint, just sucked.
I felt a little better when the alarm went off, but that may have been because I wasn't really awake. I'll never really know. But since this early morning trip was my idea, if I could walk, I was going. We made great time over the pass and got there an hour ahead of time at 7 a.m. It wasn't raining, but definitely had been. There was a waterfall of drainage off the mountain that we'd be running up. If not for one particularly wet and muddy race in Nevada City a couple Octobers ago, this would be THE sloppiest course I've ever run on. Maybe a tie...
Anyway, the warm-up felt ok. Not great, but ok. However, it was obvious early on the first climb, which started a minute in, that this would be a tough day. Just like the first mile of the Fall Colors run, I was dropped by runners I was hoping to pace off of. All distances started at the same time, and after the first two climbs, which included a long staircase and lots of slippery mud, there was an out and back to the 7 mile check-point. Here's where my navigation skills kicked in. I saw markings on the left and turned to ask the runner behind me if he thought this was a left turn, or a future right. If my brain was working, I would have realized it was a future right. In hindsight, I re-remembered that the polka dot ribbons preceded a turn on that side of the road. No problem, only a couple seconds lost. By the turn, I knew I was easily in 2nd, and highly unlikely to catch up. At one point I must have put my head down, or temporarily been stricken blind, because somehow, though I'd just seen it, and knew it was there, I missed the turn!
I thought I may have missed it, and asked a runner if there was a turn coming up on my right. Problem was, I don't think he understood english. He nodded yes enthusiastically and gave me not one, but two thumbs up. A minute or two later, the road ended and we were back on the trail, which I knew with 97.6% certainty was too far. So I turned and timed it back the right I'd missed. 4:19. Times two ways!! Frick!!! I have to say, I think this was by far the most well-marked obvious turn that I've ever missed. I really don't know how in the world I managed that one.
So now I had no idea what place I was in, just that I was 8 1/2 minutes or so further behind than I had been, and was climbing up another muddy lung burner, which isn't my forte anymore under normal circumstances. So I kinda tempo-ran the last 2 or three miles, taking in the amazing ocean views, and didn't wake up til I got caught on the final decent, a slip-n-slide of epic proportions. The guy who passed me was signed up for the 10, but had decided in-race to make the 7 mile turn. In my sissyness, I figured he wasn't racing ME since he had officially been a ten miler, and with my priority currently being to stay upright, I let him go. When we hit the final 200 on pavement, I got my spine back and quickly closed the 50m gap, but then we had a singletrack bridge and a couple turns before the nowhere to pass. Turns out, he officially finished the 7 miler 3rd overall, less than one second ahead of me, and won our age group.
The leader ran right at 58 minutes. 2nd was about 7 minutes back, with the two of us 3rd and 4th in 68:00 and 68:01. So assuming the rest would've been the same, I'd have run a minute and a half off the lead in 59 1/2. Oh well. No cooldown for me. Thought it wasn't really cold, it was windy and wet, and it felt cold - so I got my pants and coat back on, and waited for Kirk and Dave. Kirk ran a strong 2nd half to come back from 2nd to easily pull away for the win, and Dave finished one of the tougher courses we'd run a while later. Moylan's in Novato for lunch. Only 1 beer as my tummy was pissed again.
Even though the weather really wasn't bad, and neither were the roads, everyone and their mother was on the road, so it took us 7 hours to get home, causing us to miss our buddy Lance's holiday party. Double Frick!!
As is typical of 2010 for me, week #51 was my 2nd half high, even though I was sick to end the week, at 59.6. This week was less than 9! Hopefully, 2011 will start better, but neither my stomach or lung capacity has fully recovered as of a week later. We shall see. I already skipped my next race, a 5k in Sacramento this morning, and plan on racing next on the 16th, when Kirk and I will be hoping to be close to 6 minute pace at the not-too-speedy Redding Marathon Relay. 2010 review coming soon...