Saturday, April 23, 2011

Safe and Healthy Homes 5k

I'll keep this one short. It was rather wet & anti-climactic, but the good news is I'll be able to try out the Nike Free 3.0's without having to go into male prostitution. Phew!
I'm not sure what to think about today. Free shoes and a win go a long way, but missing your goal time by 38-48 seconds, in a 5k, not so great. I know. Boo-hoo, right? I won't think of this again as long as I get back on track (soon), but I'm trying to get back under 16 minutes, not struggle to break 17.
Today's course, which is a pretty fast one, and clearly marked, along the Truckee River, is one I've run before (a 16:29 in September of 2008). Since I'd posted a 16:22 and a 16:30 in my last two 5ks (both in the last three weeks) and I had a great time trial a weekandahalfago, I thought hitting 16:09 was possible, and definitely expected to be under those other two times, which were on slightly harder courses. I don't know what it was today, but the speed was just never there. I was quite surprised when I was already 8-9 seconds off 1k in, and after that, nothing really changed. I stayed pretty even, adding 8 seconds or so to my goal time with each passing kilometer. I'd be hoping to run a flat 10k at this pace the next time out, so hopefully this is just a little hick-up in the grand scheme of things. The knee is still bothersome, but really didn't seem to effect today's race. I may be fighting off the family cold, as I've been coughing all afternoon, but the warm-up (and the previous week of training) felt good. Maybe running on a Saturday (and therefore not backing off quite as much the day before as usual) threw me off, but I do harder workouts the day before my time trials, and don't seem to be effected. Bottom line - I don't know why I ran slower. I'm glad I was lucky enough to eek out a win (though it looks like finish times may be all over the place - mine really was 16:57), and I'll go hard Wednesday and try to figure things out.
Hopefully, my 2008 time will fall next week at the Spring Run 10k

. Three years ago I ran 16:59(900 feet downhill) and 18:51 (back up plus 25-30 yards) to post a 35:50. I'd like to beat that time. I think I'm a little faster than I was then, but not as good of a climber, so it should be interesting. Til then...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fight For Air Climb 2011 (formerly Climb the Legacy)

Well, this last weekend couldn't have gone much further askew of what I'd planned. Without going into too much detail, I was either going to attempt my second "daily double" since college by running the Spring Forward for Autism 5k at 8:00, then jogging down the street and defending my title in the Climb at 9:00 (the other mutli-run day being three legs of the RTO over a 12 hour span in 2008) or just run the 5k at UNR. Notice how neither of those plans involve just doing the Climb?
Events beyond my control began to conspire against me, the first being that the City of Reno had the time of the climb wrong on their site. Correct time? 8:15. However, after going back & forth via email, the RD of the climb was willing to work with me on my individual start time, going somewhere closer to 9:00, since this is a staggered run. But the story doesn't end here. Active.com had the time for the 5k wrong, so instead of an 8:00 start time, it's 9:00. So now my double would consist of going anaerobic first, then running a 5k. I liked it better the other way around, but that was still going to be the plan, as long as I could get up to UNR in time to register race morning.
As of Wednesday, I was all signed up for the climb, fundraising complete, thanks to the generous donations of the Warner family in Grass Valley, and Veronica Carlos here in Reno. Until last week, I had no intention of doing the climb at all. I hadn't trained for it like I had in year's past, but then every day at the gym I walked by the table with a team sign up sheet staring me in the face. I wasn't going to be returning to most of the races I'd done last spring, and I'd done the climb every year of it's existence, so...I signed up. St Mary's is a sponsor too, so the race fee was waived. That would later take the sting out of the fact that the event has "gone all cheap". Awesome prizes for the winners in '09, not so awesome in '10, and absolutely nothing in 2011. Heck, even the free pictures from years past were for sale, but that's a rant I'll save for another day :)
Not much to share about the rce itself, as the only strategy involved was to go out fast and don't die, don't die, don't die, don't die!!!! Even sans specific training, I was feeling pretty good about my fitness til about, oh, lunchtime on Friday, when my right knee decided to revert to January 2010 form. I made it one block on Saturday before shutting it down, and assumed I'd be biking, stairclimbing, or using the eliptical trainer to warm-up for the climb. The 5k was out of the question as of Saturday morning, which was disappointing (especially when my legs felt stronger than expected post climb!). Sunday rolls around and Dave and I jog over (yay, I can run!) to the Silver Legacy from the gym to check in with the team, and head back to St Mary's for a proper warm-up. I get to the start at 8:12, so I don't have time to stand around and get nervous, or wonder just what in the heck I'm doing, and I'm the first to go up right at 8:18. Like I said, no strategy, or sense of pace. I noticed at floor 14 that I was feeling it a bit more than I should be at this point, but you can't really hold back - you have NO IDEA where your competition is til after the fact. Combined with the fact that this type of race is half anaerobic made it so I kept the foot on the gas til the legs started to get weak and heavy 2/3 of the way up. Ruh-roh!! I didn't dare glance at the watch, but those last few floors seemed to be akin to running up stairs made of sand. I was still taking two at a time, but my legs would not obey the brain, and seemed to take a lot longer between footstrike and push-off. Thankfully, the end came at floor 36. I glanced down...3:29. Ok, I might be safe with that. I'd run 3:26-3:25 the last two years, but nobody else has ever been under 3:40. The new timers got the results up in a more timely manner than year's past and I saw that I was safe, as long as no surprises awaited at the end. Officially I ended up 17 seconds ahead of 2nd place, but the surprise came when the team results came out, and St Mary's was the first place team by a minute or two (taking the total time of your top 5 runners)! Pretty nice surprise there!
Back to the gym for a cool-down run and light lifting, and even though the knee is holding on for dear life this week, I've been able to run every day, and I'm hoping the next couple weeks of racing won't be interrupted. Heck, it might even be warm out sooner or later. Wouldn't want to miss that!

Monday, April 18, 2011

HOLY CRAP!!! Fred Z takes over Boston...

2011 BOSTON MARATHON ATHLETE TRACKING


All checkpoints are official times. Click 'TRACK' to add the athlete to your tracking list (maximum allowed: 5; currently tracking: 0).
Bib Name Age M/F City St Ctry Ctz
228 Zalokar, Fred 50 M Reno NV USA
5k 10k 15k Half 25k 30k 35k 40k
0:17:37 0:35:29 0:53:27 - 1:15:32 1:29:43 1:48:56 2:07:50 2:26:29
Finish: Pace Offl. Time Overall Gender Division
5:54 2:34:46 143 124 1

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Impressions: New Balance Minimus Line


In the hopes of lining myself up a little better, I've decided to go "barefoot". While I fall well short of the extremeists who call traditional running shoes foot coffins (funny, but overkill) I've always liked a lighter shoe with more ground feel (though I've worn every extreme and most in-between). On any given day, you can find a dozen experts that will tell you that you need orthotics or, say, the Asics Kayano, and a dozen more that will tell you (as these shose do) that less is more. If any of them try to tell you their way is right for everyone, all the time...they are full of sh-- and you should find a new expert. Bulky supportive or motion control shoes will not work for everyone, and neither will the barefoot option. But I'm hoping it will work for me. After enjoying a major injury free running career from 1993-2001, I had Achilles surgery and missed four years. Since 2005, I've had countless weeks & months off - chronic problems stemming from compensation for the "repaired" tendon, from knee, to hip, to tearing the other Achilles. Twice.
Usually, if only one of these things is happening at any given time, I'm running as fast as I was in college. But it never lasts.
The funny thing is, minimalist shoes have been around since I started running. They're called racing flats. The biggest difference in the new trend is the heel drop, or lack thereof. The true "barefoot" shoes have also removed the midsoles and in many cases, the insert, to create a true to the ground feel. This makes the old light shoes more of a transition to minimal footwear, as well as current models such as the Nike Free and Saucony Kinvara (which is more like a racing shoe than a barefoot runner).
At the Davis Stampede in February, Team Library Dork got a sneak peak the Minimus Trail and Minimus Road. Ironically, they pretty much cover the ground between barefoot running and just another lightweight trainer.
I'll start with the road version. This shoe, though built for asphalt, is an ounce heavier than the trail or wellness versions. Weird. It has the same 4 mm heel drop as the others, to strengthen and stretch the Achilles, but the cushioning is more built up underfoot, which you can easily see in the picture above. At 8 ounces, it's lighter than most lightweight trainers and heavier than most racing flats. The upper is supple and has a glovelike fit, though it feels a little wider than normal for a standard New Balance Shoe. Running in it as opposed to just slipping one on and/or walking around, you do notice the different feel and the tendency to put you a little closer to a midfoot strike than a heelstrike, but it's fairly minimal (no pun intended). This ends up being a transitional shoe, and not really a barefoot runner. That aside, I still like it. It's comfy, fits well, and is light. I think it will end up being tinkered with in future releases to be more true to the barefoot movement. Overall first impression: B-
The Trail Minimus. This is the one I was excited about at first sight. They're more flexible and closer to the ground (Vibram soles), not to mention the lighest trail shoe I've ever worn at 7.1 ounces. I'd been racing in the New Balance MT-101's since last fall, and they'd been the bestest, fastest trail shoe around. Hard to say this early (as I'm taking an extremely conservative approach in shifting miles over to the minimal shoes) but these have a shot at the title, even at $30 more a pop. Glove-like fit doesn't cover it. These are slippers for the trail. Great fit, great feel. I did get a stone bruise this morning, the third time I took em out for a mile or two, but that can happen with bulkier shoes as well, and it really was nothing. I'd like to be racing in these by the fall. Only time will tell wether these toe-less Five Fingers were worth the extra dough, but as first impressions go, I love em. I'm excited to take em out, & it's hard to only run a little in them at a time. Overall First Impression: A
Wellness version - I don't really know where these are supposed to fall, or what niche they fill. There's already a road version, that is drastically different than these lower-to-the-ground 7-ouncers. With no laces and a slipper-like upper, this feels more like a true barefoot shoe than the road version, and may be just as good of a runner. Is this a casual shoe? A cross trainer? A running shoe? Hard to say where it fits in the Minimus Universe, but since I'll use the other two for my road and trail running, this is a work shoe. Two-Three days a week I'll wear these to work, hopefully getting the legs and Achilles used to the lack of cushion and support, but without the pounding. These, even more than the other two, beg the question "just what am I paying $100 for?" This is a slipper. A very expensive slipper. I like them, but definitely feel the price is inflated due to the trendiness and hype surrounding them. I'd like to see a $10-20 price-drop in future releases, especially for the wellness version. Less may be more, but why are we paying more? Overall First Impression: B

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daffodil Run 2011

Up until a few weeks ago, I'd planned on running the 10k here. I like that course a little better, and 3 extra miles is 3 extra miles, right?
Starting in late March, though, the more regular training was starting to pay off. I had a couple mini-breakthroughs in Elk Grove and Rocklin, and was thinking I might have a shot at the Daffodil 5k record (16:34), which has been around since 2003. I've run the 5k twice before (2006, 2007) and the 10k twice before (2001, 2008) but whenever I've been in shape to run a speedy 5k...I've done the 10. So...new plan...try to run within 10 seconds of my Rocklin time on a slightly harder course. Not much harder, but when the difference between success and failure is measured in seconds, you can bet you feel every little rise of the pavement, and there were a few.
The forecast called for a cooler-than-usual morning, and sure enough, you could see your breath when we got there. I had driven the course on the way in, to see if I had a realistic shot, and it measured just under 3.2, BUT...that's in a car. You could get a false reading from tires that are over or under inflated, etc...so no big deal. I ran the course for my warm-up, and it seemed pretty dang accurate. All I could do was go out hard and hope that was enough.
That's pretty much how it went. I took the inside line on the street and got into the lead almost right away. The first mile ticked away in 5:15, but felt harder than the 5:14 last week. Maybe the cold, maybe because allergy season is just starting to rear it's ugly head, maybe the mini-hill thingee two minutes in? Something made breathing a little harder than I was hoping for. I've heard somewhere that breathing is fairly important for aerobic exercise, so I just tried to keep doing that, and keep my arms and legs moving at the same time. C'mon now, it's harder than it sounds. I was cautiously agressive to the turn, which I hit in 8:18. A couple seconds slower than I'd hoped, but I'd told myself anything 8:20 or under would give me a shot. The next few minutes were easier course-wise, though I was pushing now. There was another little hill on the bike path, followed by a brief downgrade before turning back into the park. Slight uphill finish, but unless you're dyin', one should be able to muster a kick. It was gonna be close. But as I approached the clock, it was still in the 16:20's, and my watch said the same. I ended up crossing the line in 16:30, getting out a there with the course record by 4 seconds.
No young-uns leading the field this time. Number two was Jeff Boutte, followed by 64 year old running maniac and all around stud Herve Pastre. It looked like a couple of the NU guys were pacing a female teammate to a runaway victory in the 5k. Love to see that teamwork!! Dave flirted with 25 minutes a couple weeks ago, but hit the mark this time - on a harder course to boot, in 24:48/50. I got a nice long cooldown in, and am loving the consistency from week to week. Though I feel a little more beat up than the past couple weeks (the usual suspects...right knee, Achilles, blah blah blah), my mileage has been 67, 67.8, and 67.9 the last three weeks. This week got off to a slow start, as I cut yesterday's run short, but I made up ground today with an 80 minute trail run. I've only got a couple days to figure out whether to attempt a double 5k/stairclimb on Sunday morning, so I'm hoping I recover a little more in the next day or so.
It wouldn't be a small town race without a little drama. This time around, it was glancing at the posted results and seeing 16:35.5 (remember, the only goal was 16:33) where a 16:30 should have been. What the cake?! I sent my delegate, Abby, to find the RD and figure out where those extra seconds came from, but I just couldn't sit still, so I made my way over to the finish line as well. Talk about taking the wind out of your sails. Luckily Abby had a photo of me a stride (or a fraction of a second) from the line, with the giant digital clock showing 16:30. We still got a little resistance before the timer agreed with Abby and changed it to the previously announced-at-the-line 16:29. The only explanation that makes sense is that people aren't clicking right when runners cross the line. When it's inconsistent, it becomes a bigger problem. #2, who I watched finish, was within a second. Dave's time was actually 2 seconds faster than his watch, so it wasn't that the big clock was off. Anyway, I'm grateful it got fixed, but really wish I didn't have to go plead my case to get the time right. The same thing actually happened in a previous 5k here, and when I set the 10k mark in 2008 (my watch, which I never look at til after I cross the line, and the time on the clock...34:45-34:46. My official time...34:50). I never brought it up because those seconds were not the difference of hitting or missing my goal those years, so it just wasn't worth it, but I gotta say, I'm starting to prefer the larger chip timed races. I've yet to have any issue with a CRRM race. It's worth noting, though, that I've never had a timing issue in any other Grand Prix race.
So, rant out of the way, it was a good weekend. We had a good breakfast at the cafe at mile 0.8 and headed back over the hill for Emily's very pink third birthday party. You'll all be releived to know that everything was as it should be the following day. No pink. Well I was worried. That's all I have to say about that. It was really nice seeing a LOT of familiar faces, which is my favorite part of these races. The running community in Nevada County is just great. Reno is finally moving back in the right direction after a few dark years, but I wish some of the enthusiasm of the Sierra Trailblazers would rub off on the Striders.
This weekend's plan's is still up in the air, but will most likely involve at least another 5k, here in Reno. After that, we'll see how the ol' body responds. Til then...
(i'll post some pics when we load the camera-card)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Run Rocklin version 2.0



This would be one of those rare races I ran in 2010 that I'm healthy & fit enough to give it another go in 2011. This is a super well organized, accurate, and fun race. Just like last year, I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a good 5k or 12k. A couple thousand people at the start, about 1500 in the 5k and another thousand(?) in the 12. This race fell last year juuust about the time where my training (and knee) was starting to come around. A couple weeks later I think I could have snuck under 16:00. As it was, it was a deep field, and I ran a 16:08/16:09 chip/gun time for a close third overall. A couple weeks ago, it was my goal to get under 17 and hope to be in the top 5. After last week's breakthough in the 10k, I was hoping for something closer to a 16:30 and a shot at the top 3.
I got a good warm-up in on the course, got back to the car to ditch the gloves and arm-warmers, and did a few strides before the gun. I LOVE races that have a countdown clock at the start. It makes it easy to do a perfectly timed warm-up and stretch, which really does help if you're hoping to go out fast. That was the hope, anyway. Mile 2 would be the hardest one, course-wise, so I was hoping for a sub 5:20 mile 1. Like last year, there was a decent size pack after the gun. Around the first two tuens I was about 7th, and three guys were threatening to break away early. By a half mile in, I'd positioned myself at the front of the chase group, and there would continue to be a gap between the top three and the rest of us. After keeping pace a few seconds back and hitting mile 1 in 5:14 I tried to make up some ground on the hill and subsequent flat, and had caught the pack right around the half way mark. I'd thought once I caught up that running with them (as opposed to slightly faster trying to catch up) would feel easier...but I was wrong.
But...the race started over again for the last 8 minutes. We were a tight pack. I think each guy jockeyed back and forth between 1st or 2nd and 4th, myself included. About 12 minutes in though, the three of them were threatening to drop me again as I struggled to stay within a second or two of the back of the pack. But I knew what was coming. A fast finish. Slightly downhill and flat, save for a tiny bump right before the downhill at mile 2.9. At mile 7 of the 12k course (.44 to go) I made a concerted effort to speed up. I remember last year being happy with my time but not liking somebody being 1 second in front of me. You always wonder if you could have dug deeper. Of course, last week, the race came to an end with me reeling in the 10k leader, but unable to bridge that last 3 second gap. Being that it was the best race I'd run since last June, I wasn't upset, but that finish was in my head, and I didn't want a repeat. I dug down for another gear that I was not only blindly hoping would be there, but that 3rd place wouldn't be able to match. A quarter mile to go...in third now (with prize money to get back the entry fee) but no sitting back just yet. First was matching my speed 40 yards ahead, but 2nd was not. I got to him just before mile 3 and ran hard and scared the last tenth of a mile, hoping to hang on to 2nd (which I did) and get a good time in the process. I ended up with a chip time of 16:22.03, which they so nicely rounded up 0.97 seconds to 16:23. Not easy. Luckily I only have a couple packets of GU on race morning for 5 and 10ks, cause it came right back up after going through the chute (Dave only got to see the oh-so-entertaining dry heaves). Two weeks under my A goal time and I actually got to do some real racing in this one!
Dave came in just a hair over 26 minutes and with a lying GPS that said the elevation change (or climb?) was just 29 feet. Not a hilly course, but I'd wager 40-50 up, and 40-50 down, at the least. My mile splits ended up being 5:14, 5:24, 5:14+, <:30. For as frustrating as my training has been since starting comeback #6 or 7 last fall (starting to blend together now) this 5k matches my best time from 2006-2009 to the second, and it was enough to make my want to do the 5k at Daffodil next week in hopes of a 16:33 or under!!!
Another high mileage week for me, and the regularity is starting to pay off...67 miles for the second straight week and 312 over the last five weeks. The Achilles is on the edge, but always is, even at 20 miles a week, so it is what it is. Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy the summer this year for the first time since 2007!

Friday, April 1, 2011

age-graded 80's

Here's what I gots ta do to run any age-graded 80's (scraping the bottom of the national class barrel) in 2011...
3k ~ 9:19 I ran 9:15 in 2010 and 9:29 in 2009 in my only 3k. I'd say my only shot would be a find a track meet. Preferably one with a downhill grade all the way around. Come to think of it, I like that idea for every distance!
5k ~ 16:23 Possible if I stay consistant ~ I ran 37 seconds faster last year.
8k ~ 26:56 Gotta find the right race for this one, which is hard.
10k ~ 34:06 Again, possible. More than a minute faster last year, and 19-20 seconds off this mark last week.
12k ~ 41:10 Not too many fast 12k's out there. Maybe Bridge to Bridge in the fall.
15k ~ 51:55 Don't know of any fast 15k's. Anyone? Anyone?
10 mile ~ 55:55 Right now, the endurance ain't that good, but maybe.
Half ~ 1:14:19 See ten miler, add a 5k...and this would be a pr. I think divine intervention would be needed for this one.
Best chances are probably in the 5k-12k range, since that's primarily what I'm planning on training for.