Saturday, December 1, 2012

Favorite Movies EVER

After many beers, and a couple tastes of port, we stumbled across yet another awesome movie that our Hollywood challenged friend, Ben, had not seen. Luckily, we've been doing OK at rehabbing his sheltered past (see: Snatch) so there is hope. The movie in question? Only the best western of all-time, TOMBSTONE. Who has seen this movie and not twirled their coffee mug like it was a six-shooter? Anyway, this lead us to a debate of our favorite ten movies of all-time. That's a short list. I thought I had ten, but that back end gets crowded really quick. So, in deference to the end of the world on the 21st, I'm going to try and rank my favorite 21 movies, with a little cheating, and a nod to some specific genres in the paragraph following.
1. Lord of the Rings (Trilogy). See, I'm cheating already. Fellowship of the Ring, with it's character development and just right mix of action and heart, is the best of the bunch, but so I wasn't taking up 3 spots, I'll rank this trilogy as one. 2. Office Space. The funniest movie for anyone who has ever had a job. Period. 3. Braveheart. Probably my favorite before Gandalf and the bunch came along. It's got it all. Mel may be bat sh-- crazy, but the man knew what he was doing. 4. O Brother Where Art Thou. The writing was spot on, and Clooney gives one of the most enjoyable performances of his, or anyone's, career. 5. The Village. My dark horse. Easily the most underrated movie ever. Bryce Dallas Howard and Adrian Brody give Oscar-worthy performances, and even bat sh-- crazy (hey, this is developing into a pattern) Juaquine Phoenix should have got a nomination. You say slow, I say deliberate. 6. The Godfather (Trilogy). Cheat number two. But 1 & 2 are basically one movie, and 3 continues the quintessential gangster flick, so there you go. For fun, watch this, then see Godthumb. 7. Tombstone. Definitely a flick catering to the male audience, but damn, if this movie doesn't make you want to grow a mustache, nothing will. 8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Check out the Lego version of the Spamelot song. Commence side-splitting laughter. 9. The Matrix. Keannu will never get a best actor nod, and this doesn't count what they did after part one...but I can rarely remember ever being more excited for a sequel than I was after watching the initial installment of this trilogy. Too bad the sequels weren't up to par. 10. Dumb & Dumber. Say what you will. This movie is brilliant, as likely gets more use out of the plethora of one liners than any other movie in the history of cinema. 11. Snatch. Funny. Violent. Stylized. Brad Pitt especially gives a phenomenal performance, but the movies strength is in the writing. 12. Dances with Wolves. Remember when Kevin Costner was relevant? His lame adaptation of Wyatt Earp on the heels of Tombstone does nothing to sully this epic western that was another in my line of "favorite movies when it came out." An epic, groundbreaking film, spawning many a copycat (Avatar or Last Samurai, ie-Dances With Sushi, anyone)? 13. Glory. One of the best war movies ever made. Great performances all around. I cried when Broderick & the other officers tore up their paychecks. If only Denzel didn't have to bring race into nearly every bleeping role he's played since. 14. Gladiator. For it's sheer bad-assedness, and a villain we love to hate. 15. History of the World Part 1. Because Mel needs to be on this list somewhere. 16. Prefonataine. Best running movie for runners. More historically accurate than it's competitor, without limits, and who doesn't love the drill Sergeant from Full Metal Jacket as Coach Bowerman? 17. American History X. Gritty. Hard to watch, but the performances (hell, even the brat from T2) are great. Edward Norton takes over as the best actor in Hollywood. 18. The Game. A good, suspenseful flick throughout. Then you get to the end, and your mind is blown. Not a huge Sean Penn fan, but he and Michael Douglas deliver the goods here. 19. Christmas Vacation. Can't leave it off. Tops the short list of holiday movies I HAVE to see, every year. 20. The Dark Knight. The movie or the trilogy. Take your pick. There are flaws, but this is the best treatment a comic book has ever received on film. 21. Star Wars saga. Another cheat. This is for all of em, one through six. The stronger ones are Empire Strikes Back, Phantom Menace (the awesomeness of Darth Maul overrides the annoyance of Jar Jar), and Revenge of the Sith (the final fight scene was phenomenal). No one movie on it's own would have made my top 21, but I couldn't leave the series off completely. Consideration: Goodfellas, Fight Club, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, The Bourne Trilogy, 300, Unforgiven, Apalloosa, The Natural, Major League (Juuuuust a bit outside), Passion of the Christ (best foreign film along with Life is Beautiful) & the Harry Potter series. A few random thoughts: Craig is the best Bond. Sorry, Sean. Citizen Kane is the most overrated piece ofzzzzzzzzzzzzzcrap (sorry, I fell asleep) ever made. Best Shakespeare? Either Much Ado About Nothing or As You Like It, both by Kenneth Branaugh. Classics? Wizard of Oz or To Kill A Mockingbird. In general I think the acting was overdone back in the day, hence the lack of the oldies on my list. Scary movie? Twilight. No. Not really. Halloween 1 & 2 probably, though this category may take further thought. Animated? Aladdin or Lion King. But Jasmine is hot, so the tie goes to Al. Commence the debate!!! Sorry about the formatting - I type it like a list, and it jams everything back together (sigh)...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

WIPRO San Francisco Marathon (5k)

After being up in the mountains for most of the last couple months, I was looking forward to getting back on a faster (lower!) course. Originally, I'd hoped to qualify as a seeded runner for the 2nd Half (by running a good half at Avenue of the Vines in May). But, injury called, and since I don't have caller ID, I answered. I was in the 16:20 range in February and March, but after the hip diagnosis I didn't know if I'd even be racing again at all this year. A Reno 10k, a pulled calf, and a couple mountain runs later, I've managed to get some of my fitness back on a limited running & cross-training program. The good thing is - it's working, to an extent. I've sliced a minute or so off my 5k time in July, after being pretty slow at the beginning of the month. The last few weeks have consisted of 4 main runs (usually 2 hard, and 2 mountain), a mile or two on recovery days, and a whole lotta cross-training. We were able, thanks to Abby's parents and an old friend of Hannah's, to travel without the kids for this one, which at their ages is a bit of a blessing when you're looking at nearly 8 hours of driving over two days. We ate at the usual place (Noodles and Co.) in Roseville, and actually got to our hotel in Concord before sundown!! Race morning dawns, we make the 30-minute drive over the Bay Bridge, and actually got pretty lucky parking for free just a couple blocks from the race festivities. The marathon had already started, and there'd be different waves of different halfs going off at various times. We toed the line at 7:45, in front of the Ferry Building on Embarcadero, and ran towards Fisherman's Wharf for a couple minutes, before coming back (south) on the other side of the road. Conditions were pretty good (mid-50's with a light drizzle). Their was wind, but it never really became a headwind issue, which was nice. Nothing saps your resolve quite like a stiff headwind. Anywho, this was a pretty big field (over 1100 - timing issues notwithstanding). I started out in about 10th place for the first couple minutes, and had settled almost immediately into a pace I wanted to hold. A couple minutes in, and I was able to move up to 5th (about the time we turned back towards the start). Two guys were breaking away a little, and by 5 minutes in, I was in 3rd, leading the chase pack, with a 35-40m gap between us and the top 2. I kept my eyes on them after hitting the mile in 5:17. Probably a little quick, but not reckless. It was pretty cool running back through the highly populated start area - lots of cheers to keep you going. From there, we continued towards AT & T park. I had assumed this section, while still bayside, would be a little more industrial. BUT...they've done alot with the waterfront. More shops, less garage, and a nice little run-up with player flags, etc, marking your approach to the ballpark. Oh the race, I was still in third, but ever so slowly catching up to the leaders, who were trading back and forth. By the time we turned back north again, probably just shy of two miles in (though the course was certified, the two mile marker was WAY off), I had made up some of the gap, and one of the two leaders was coming back. I was able to move into 2nd about 12 minutes or so in, and continued to stare straight ahead. The 12:08 at mile 2 (really 2.25 or so) served to energize me a bit. The gap continued to shrink as we got closer to the finish. With about a minute or so left, I had finally caught up and tucked in right behind the leader, but had to collect myself for any chance of a kick. When I saw the line in the distance, it was now or never, and I switched to whatever gear I had left for the last couple hundred. I passed on the right immediately, but when I did so, my kick was matched. Luckily I had one more half gear, and ended up coming across the line in 1st in 16:37, only about a second and a half ahead. Strategically, one of the best races I've run, and definitely up there this year (I had a narrow win in my last 5k as well, but that was more of the holdonholdonholdon variety than the slowly stalk your prey from behind variety). Unfortunately, the results took quite some time to figure out, as the timing mat at the finish line malfunctioned, not recording anyone's finish time. Eventually, back-ups would be used. Dave cruised along to a 78th place finish out of 1080 something and climbing recorded finishers, with a 21st century pr of 23:37 (23:46 gun) and was the tenth male masters runner across the line. After some dry heaves (that's what happens when a guy who's in 16:50 shape cracks 16:40) I talked myself into a longish cooldown, putting in another 4 miles on course and on a few side streets, parks, and apt. building staircases. Eventually, we ended up going to Pizza Orgasmica (pretty awesome) and City Beer (always awesome) before heading home. No surprise here, but Achilles pain is making things day to day, as the Northstar Mountain Run (and it's 2330 feet of elevation gain) approach. Hopefully, August will see half as much improvement as July :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Big Blue Adventure (takes 1, 2 & 3)

Not much to report about race #1 (Burton Creek). I was signed up and good to go, if a little out of shape compared to previous years. Then I pulled my calf quite badly during my last hard day four days before the race...tried to heal up...showed up that morning to give it a go, and made it 14 minutes into my warm-up before having to limp on in and watch everybody else race :( Race #2: Run to the Beach. Nowhere near healthy, but pretty confident I'd have no problem getting to the finish line. A beautiful day in Lake Tahoe. I knew once I saw Jeff that any hope of lucking my way into a win was out. It didn't help to be warmed up and ready to roll at 8:00 (the advertised start time) only to be told at 7:59 that the race would start at 8:15 (it actually started at 8:30 for reasons unknown). The first hill a minute or two in kilt me. Jeff was already pulling away, so that didn't matter, but I never got into anything even approaching a rythm. Heavy legs and lungs all race. Held on for dear life for a distant 2nd place in 20 minutes and change, and finally earned a few points in the series (though skipping the double points Tahoe City to Squaw race ain't gonna help). 9 points put me in a tie for 9th in the short series 3/8 of the way in. Race #3: Truckee Running Festival. Getting back into the swing of things. Still waaaay out of shape (almost 2 minutes off peak in a flat 5k) but running. The calf doesn't want to let go, leaving my daily adventures annoyingly day to day. Dave & I have managed to get up to elevation a few times, though, including the Mountain Run at Squaw, so this race at 6300 wasn't an issue. About a mile on grass, rolling bike path, then off-road in the middle, before the return trip. I followed Ryan and a young kid outta the gate. Ryan caught and passed the kid four minutes in and I followed. I got by Ryan on the uphill turn onto the trail. It would continue to be a fairly close pack of four til after half way, when I (thought) Ryan was the only one shadowing me. As it turns out, it was the two time defending Burton Creek 6k winner. He threatened to pass a couple times, and the last k was spent in crisis for both of us, but I managed to hold him off (18:36 to 18:43) for my first win in two months, and only my third of the year. A cushy pair of Salomon's will take the edge off the high entry fees for this series, and the fact that I only ran in two of the three I paid for. Next up after a relatively high quality 36 mile week is the SF Marathon (5k) on 7/29 and the Northstar Mountain Run (race #4 in the series) on 8/12. If I don't get murdelized on that climb, I can do some damage in the points series. I moved up from 9th into a tie for 2nd with last week's win, but Northstar is double points, and climbing is not exactly my forte anymore. Looking forward to it :) *Hmmm. I'm apparently working on an putdated browser...maybe I'll get to add a couple pictures later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The BEER blog: ruminations of a beer & math geek

Beer is good. Thursday, I reviewed my 3,000th different beer. In reality, there are probably a few more, but none that deserve the space in my limited memory to rate them accurately. That's why I rate em. To help remember. N Stuff. Those three thousand brews have come from 48 states (including DC) and 45 countries. From grocery stores, liquor stores, bars, breweries, trades, ebay, mail order(& homebrews that are not included in the total)...Dave's underwear drawer. You get the idea. On the site I use to track & score the beers I've had, - there are 81 styles of beer. I've at least sampled a beer or two from every style, some far more than others. My favorite styles by the numbers (ratings on a scale of 1-5, my average is a 3.5): 1. Imperial Porters (28) 4.15 average 2. Imperial Stouts (189) 4.13 (really my favorite if I had to pick, especially the barreled kind) 3. Flanders Red/Oud Bruin (25) 4.07 (combination of two similar them sours) 4. Belgian Quad (24) 4.06 5. Wild Ale (28) 4.01 (sours not brewed in the traditional flanders or lambic styles) 6. Barleywines (111) 3.96 (I combined American & English styles, too much overlap) 7. Imperial IPA (148) 3.93 (for the Hophead in me) 8. Old Ale (25) 3.90 (can be similar to Barlwywines, but merits it's own rank) 9. Strong Ale (101) 3.88 (kind of a catch-all catergory for big brews that don't fit another style) 10. Belgian Strong Ale (108) 3.87 (see strong ale, add Belgian)
I've tried more IPA/IIPAs than anything else (376), lots of stouts (321), pale ales (163), barleywines (111), spiced ales (108), belgian strongs (108), strong ales (101) and porters (96). By the numbers, my least favorite styles: reduced-alcohol (1.57), light lager (1.59), pale lager (2.03), strong lager (2.28) and lager (2.67). This would make it seem like I'm a regular lager hater, but I love Bocks & Doppelbocks. Most cheap (ie-pee pee) beers out there happen to be lagers, and that brings down the scores. The highest rated states are Indiana (12) 4.12, Illinois (17) 4.07, Ohio (16) 4.03, DE (34) 3.96, & Michigan (58) 3.89. Michigan is the only one that I'd really consider a top 5. The others have too small of a sample size and/or are dependent on one brewer (ie-Dogfish Head in DE). MY "real" top 5 states for beer: 1. California 3.61 This was a tough one, but soooo many awesome beers brewed here. 2. Oregon 3.64 Portland, San Diego, Denver (and Asheville, NC apparently)...the beer meccas of the US. 3. Colorado 3.6 4. MI 3.89 two of my favorites, Founders and Bells, call Michigan home. 5. WI 3.1 low average. but several awesome breweries - New Glarus, Tyranena, Ales Asylum... Lowest 3 are Wyoming at 2.18, Missouri at 2.48, and Texas at 2.78.
By volume: 1. California 911! 2. Oregon 210 3. Colorado 176 4. Nevada 167 5. Wisconsin 121 6. Massachussets 86 (mostly Sam Adams) 7. Washington 82 8. New York 76 9. Missouri 60 (mostly pee water) 10. Michigan 58 South Dakota, North Dakota, Arkansas: 0 (feel free to send me some). Favorite by country: 1. USA 3.52 lots o crap, sure, but TONS of awesome brews, brewers, and a neverending variety make this an easy call. 2. Denmark* 3.78 My favorite foreign brewer (Mikkeller) though they don't really have a brewery (gypsies). 3. Belgium 3.69 4. Norway 3.84 5. Scotland 3.73
By volume: 1.USA 2397 2. Belgium 134 3. Denmark 83 4. Germany 72 5. England 67 What are the best breweries in the land, you might ask? Well, let me tell you (though this gets a little hairy). Lots of really really good brewers will not make this list. It's a very short list, but those I deem to be the best of the best. Like I'd mentioned before, Mikkeller is my favorite non-Yankee brewer, but my top-10 are all Anerican.
1. Stone (49) 2. Deschutes (50) 3. Russian River (25) 4. New Glarus (36) 5. Alesmith (13) 6. Bells (19) 7. Founders (14) 8. The Bruery (37) 9. Cigar City (23) 10. Dogfish Head (34) And a just missed shout-out to Lost Abbey/Port, Great Divide, and Firestone Walker, among others. I've had beer, both good (think Sierra Nevada) and bad (Indian Wells) from many a brewer, but none more than these: 1. Boston Beer Co. 70 2. Mikkeller 68 3. Sierra Nevada 62 4. Great Basin (Reno) 51 5. Deschutes 50 6. Stone 49 7. Moylans/Marin 48 8. Rogue 47 t9. Silver Peak (Reno) 46 t9. Anh-Busch 46 (what can I say?) And finally, these...the top 1%, according to yours truly.
Ayinger Celebrator Bells Hopslam North Coast Rasputin 14 Deschutes The Abyss Russian River Pliny the Elder Stone Whiskey Barrel Double Bastard Dogfish Head Palo Santo Stone Red Wine 7-7-07 Vertical Epic Great Divide Espresso Yeti Sam Adams Chocolate Bock Cigar City Marshall Zhukovs Stone Imperual Russian Stout Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Great Lakes Barrel Aged Blackout Deschutes Dissident (the original batch was amazing) Russian River Consecration Goose Island King Henry Schmidt/Maui/Stone Coconut Macadamia...Porter Alesmith Barrel Aged Speedway Stout Bells Expedition Stout Russian River Pliny the Elder New Glarus Belgian Red Firestone Walker 13 Alesmith Speedway Stout Great Divide Barreled/classic Yeti The Bruery Bourbon Smoking Wood Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout Goose Island Bramble Rye/Rare Bourbon County Russian River Supplication Cascade Sang Royale ****Everything you just read has likely already begun to change. 3001 is happening tonight. CHEERS!!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rock-N-River The Second (& Bidwell...since I never got around to it)

The 2nd for myself, anyway. Turi, 1/4 of the aptly named Team Library Dork, has done this race every year since before he was born. Or something like that. I paced him last year in the half, and have watched other years from the sidelines. I'd only run in 2010, and because of good company, enjoyed the hell out of it despite getting a lashing the last mile. That year I ran 33:01. It was my best 10k since running a pr of 2001. I was quite healthy back then. You might even say robust. Not so much anymore, which is why the 33-flat was nice. As of February of this year, it had been my (then realistic) goal to get back to the 33's in this race. I knew the course. I liked the course. Despite the elevation, it's fast. Pretty flat, with an ever so slight uphill on the way up, and then the return trip back Downtown. I ran a negative split in 2010 despite imploding a little towards the end. But alas, it was not to be. The last Wednesday before the Bidwell Classic 5k a couple months ago, I did what was to be a pretty normal speed-workout, trying to get a little turnover back after taking a good portion of the summer & fall off. I completed the workout, and felt what at first I thought was some extra tightness in the hip flexor area. By that night, I thought maybe a mild strain. Next day...not so mild. Luckily, I hadn't been running 7 days a week for months, so I had a built in day off before Bidwell, and an easy day the day before. My hip did not respond as I'd hoped, but I kept my doubt mostly to myself as we traveled to Chico on Friday. Race morning dawns, and while still fearful, I'm pretty sure things will loosen up at least a little as I warm-up, stretch, and run (and they did, to an extent). I may not have been able to generate as much power as I'd liked, but basically felt ok with race-pace. The first mile went by in a pack of 6, including Scott & Zack, two other Reno runners who I had ocasionally been training with. Last year's champ, Nick, stared to pull away in the middle mile and Zack and Scott went with him. There was a small gap, and another pack of 3, myself included. Though the first mile was dead on goal pace, I couldn't quite hold it as Nick extended his lead. Scott and Zack ran side by side to the tape, while I fought for 5th overall in 16:20. I had hoped to be closer to 16, but as of yet, had no idea the extent of my injuries. All was (mostly) forgotten as we dined at Sierra Nevada for brunch and Burgers & Brews for dinner. As long as I didn't stand up. As the days turned into weeks, it became obvious that this was severe if it was a pull, or was something worse. No amount of time off running seemed to do much good, and things like, oh...sitting, walking, standing, bending, seemed to keep it juuuust irritated enough to not heal. After a few weeks, I stopped in to get the opinion of an old PT friend, who sent me to "the hip guy". The hip guy took an X-ray of my left hip (with a little right in there for good measure) and the results (if not threatening to my passion and therefore my general mental & physical well being) were downright comical. All kinds of fun stuff. "You see this round bone here? That's supposed to be a divet. See this extra lump here? That's putting bone on bone every time you take a full stride. See this hanging off? That peice broke off...pre-arthritic, nerves on the end of bones hitting nerves on the end of bones"...yada yada yada. Too similar for my taste to what was going on originally with my heel and Achilles in 2001. That surgery (4-6 mo. estimated recovery) took 4 years from my prime, and despite a few brief glimpses, I've never been the same. My running career has been a daily balancing act, trying to minimize overcompensating for a dizzying amount of injury upon injury without turning into a sedentary...well, that is not an option. Cortisone was an option, and one that I took a couple weeks later, but even if it was more successful that it seems to have been, it is a delay tactic. Sooner than later, I'll be back in for surgery on my hip, so, you know, the bones fit together like they are supposed to. Unfortunately for me, the cortisone does not seem to be keeping the soft-tissue surrounding my extra bone from being angry. My plan was to buy myself a little time, in order to have a late summer and fall racing season, then have the surgery in November, so I'm not sitting on my ass or otherwise stuck indoors during the nicest parts of the year. I'm not quite ready to call it a year, yet, but it seems as if surgery may come sooner than then. I'll know in a couple more weeks.
Which brings us back to Sunday. I've run roughly 30 or so miles, TOTAL, since the beginning of March, and none of them very fast. I've cross trained quite a bit, and put on 10 lbs, though :) I'd only decided very recently to still run Rock-N-River at all, if quite a bit slower than planned. I can't run ONE 5:20 right now, let alone 6.2 of em...back to back. The fastest I'd dared to go, both because of the pain caused by the injury, and the fact that my lungs are not what they once were, is 18:38 and 19:11 for two seperate 5ks, four days apart. I didn't think I could hold those paces for 10, but if I was going to sign up and spend money, I was going to run as hard as I could in my condition. I figured a 39 & change, 38 on a really good day. Despite the size of the field, I didn't see many familiar faces up front. Still, when the gun went off and I found myself in front by the time we turned off Virginia Street, I was surprised. And anxious, right from the start. I do NOT belong here running this pace. But what pace was I going? I have a pretty good internal pacer when healthy & in shape, but that goes out the window when one hasn't really run in 10 weeks. As it turns out, mile one was a bit too fast. Though I had been cautious and already backed off a little, my mile one split was 5:58. My lungs could feel it. Still not a pace I thought would be leading this race, and also a pace I knew I shouldn't try to hold. I slowed down for the remainder of the out section, and while the lead had shrunk, I still led at the turnaround by a couple seconds, in 19:06 (6:10 pace). I was hurtin, but running scared too. I'd spent half the race in the front, and competitive instinct took over. I didn't want to blow it now! While there were no fast guys in the field, the same cannot be said about the ladies. Local national class runner Sarah Rattier was on me like white on rice after my 2nd mile slow-down. She'd stay there until pretty late in the race. We retraced our steps, but I wasn't getting splits (if there were signs at miles 4, 5, and 6, I didn't see em). I hadn't thought I could run negative splits this time, even with the slight downhill, but I proved myself wrong. As I turned back on Virginia, I was fairly certain of not only holding the lead, but running under 38, which I honestly didn't think I could in the shape I'm in. Final time? 37:24. 18:18 for the 2nd 5k. 6:10 the first half, 5:54 second, 6:02 per for the whole thing...and a whole lotta luck that nobody showed up. I think I'd have barely cracked the top 10 in 2010 with that time.
Can't say I mind, though. A win is a win, and it's been a while! Unfortunately, right before they were to start the awards, I noticed they had me in 3rd, with a teenage boy having run a 8 minute 10k (doubly impressive seeing as how thats roughly 18 minutes under the track world record) and a female without an age having run a 29 (also a world record)! I was fairly certain they'd get it fixed eventually, but we were hungry, and it looked like the only thing we'd be waiting for was a medal that looked nearly identical to the finishers medal, with a different colored strap. Guess 2500 x $40 ain't enough for more than that, right? As I thought, I'm paying for my transgressions today. I can't really do any more damage (it's already done), so it's just a matter of pain management and figuring out when to do surgery. I've got a follow up in a week-and-a-half. If I can't figure out the plan in a week, I'll reschedule, but I'd rather have it done one way or the other. We'll see. So, that leaves the immediate future up in the aor, though I know at the least I'll be travelling to the Buzz Oats No Excuses 5k on Memorial Day, and the Burton Creek Trail Runs in Lake Tahoe a few weeks later. Whether or not I run, I still have to figure out. Your "moment of Zen"...look up the results for RNR on the RGJ website. If you can make heads or tails out of it, kudos to you :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getty Owl Run 5k

This is well-run new race in downtown Sacramento. Based on it's initial success (700+ registered) I'd expect to see this one around for a while. My original thought was to do a 5k on a course I didn't like (Verdi) and a 10k on a course I'd like better (here) but I balked, thinking running a 10k a short week before Bidwell (5 recovery days in between) wasn't a good idea, so I reversed course, got my but kicked in a 10k in Verdi, and had my hands full with a 16-year-old in this one.
Once again we stayed close enough to walk to the race, but I can't exactly give a glowing recommendation to the "Executive" Vagabond Inn in downtown Sac...other than to say their web-design team deserves a raise. Not exactly a dump, but not worth the price, either. But - convenience won out, and convenient it was. A short 1/2 mile took us to Crocker Park, where the festivities were being set up (and blown over by the wind). The 5k & 10k started together after some shorter kid's races, and followed eachother for the first half of the 5k course before we turned north along the river. The first mile went by as planned, sharing the lead in 5:12, but by 6 or 7 minutes in, it seemed I was working harder than I should be. When we turned 8 minutes in, I immediately fell juuust far enough behind to eliminate any chance of drafting or pace-sharing duties. By mile 2 I was 5-6 seconds behind and losing time. I tried to stay mentally in the game, and finished just under 10 seconds back of the leader in 16:32. Third place came in about a minute later. Mile 3 was actually a touch faster than mile 2, so that's a plus. Otherwise, I wasn't too happy about being about 20 seconds off my goal time. I ran back out on the course after a couple minute breather, and ran with Abby after spying Dave, for the last .8 or so of her race...pushing both kids in the stroller. It was a little cold out there, but they did pretty good. And of course, Abby was the only one of us who hit her goal time (by over a minute!) running a 32:54.
So...this one will stay on the radar in future years. Maybe the 10k next time. Having food vendors at the race (in addition to the standard fruit/bagels/drinks) was quite nice! Can't remember the name, but we had some awesome gyros before returning to the hotel for a soak and some awesome brews with Mr. Hicks. Til next time...
You can click on an athlete and see photos and (maybe - doesn't seem to be the right time o day this time) a video of their finish. Pretty cool.

Friday, February 24, 2012

YGBC 10k

We went. We saw. We sucked. No real motivation to do a real write-up on this one. It was bad enough that I am questioning whether or not I should ever run hills again. Started out of front, dropped on hill #1, still spiked the heart rate, fell further behind for several more miles, dropping back to a distant 4th. Loop splits of about 18:20/19:30 give or take a few seconds. Blech...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Davis Stampede

This is one of those races that feels like I've done it more than I really have. In reality, this would only be my second time racing (and first time in the 5k) after placing 2nd in the 10k in 2010. But, I've come twice to watch TLD run here, and came with Turi to pace him in the half last year. So I feel I'm pretty familiar with the layout and the area. So imagine my surprise when I found out there was a bottle shop just west of the course that I never knew about til this year. Or the pizza place next door. Needless to say, we went to both, and both are worthy. A special shout out to Woodstock's Pizza staff for not only opening the doors early, but for making us two kick-ass pizzas, with great service to boot!
The weather looked like it was going to cooperate this time driving through, or running in, any precipitation. Right around 40 degrees or so at the start with a light breeze. I got to watch Charlie, Fred, Mannie & Co. start the half/10k while I was warming up, and all three finished in the top 7 in their respective races. Way to represent Reno/Sparks, guys! The 10k winner was also from Reno! All of those miles 4500 feet+ above sea level must be helping, right? Anyway, we stayed a few blocks from the start, which a man like me, with my oh-so-delicate bowels and all, could get really used to. No porta potty lines for the 2nd race in a row, just a quick jog over to the hotel lobby, drop off the kids, change shoes, and I'm ready to go. They were a few minutes behind in starting, but otherwise the race went off without a hitch. New course, but it was dead on overall, and well marked. The only hick-up was that the first mile marker was a little long (the 2nd was a little short, therefore, to be accurately 2 miles, which it was). No big deal, just caused a mini-panic for a couple minutes til we figured it out :)
There's often some young guns that start road races at the front, and inevitably fade a couple minutes in. This race was unique in that were more of them than usual, and they kept it up for longer than usual. Just before the half mile, I turned to a fellow runner and said "didn't know we had some Kenyans in the field". He responded with a knowing smile, and would go on to beat every single one of them by a substantial margin. He and I started in 9th & 10th, respectively, and began picking people off about 4 minutes in. I had moved up to 3rd by the mile marker, finally passing the kid who had a 40 yeard lead on the field a minute-and-a-half into the race. We had a tight pack of three at this point, and ran about a 5:15 for mile 1. Right on pace for my last couple time trials. I was hoping that the drop to sea level and the lighter shoes would cancel out the fact that I'd done my time trials on the treadmill.
So far so good. 7 minutes in, I'm maintaining contact with 2nd place but 1st (Matthew, who started 9th) has started to put a nice gap on us. Can't hear anyone behind me. Lots of easy turns, but no 180's, which was nice. Mile 2, 10:34. Slowed a little, but that could be the course. Still maintaining contact. 1st place out of the question unless something abnormal happens, but we're in a dogfight for 2nd. Running pretty even, I, for the first time, pull up to the side of my competitor with 3/4 mile to go...maaaaybe get a half step ahead. We trade back and forth a couple times, go under the road and back up, he gets a couple strides ahead, but I know the end of this course well, and time my kick. Mark Hicks is there at mile 6 (10k) for some encouragement. I've pulled even again, and as soon as we make the last turn for home (200-250m) I give it all I've got and take off. I wouldn't learn until hours later that I'd put over a 5 second gap in there in less than .2 miles. The finish (and my overall time of 16:23) were almost exactly like I'd imagined, except for Matthew 14 seconds in front of me in 16:09. He ran a great race for the win (dead even splits most like) and there's nothing I could have done different to make up that kind of gap, so I was happy, and congrats to him for his 2nd Stampede win in the last 3 years!
It's funny how te little things can make a big difference. Several days later, my calves are still in knots, and likely wouldn't have been at all if I hadn't had to sprint at the end. But, I had a very specific time in mind, though, so I needed that sprint to not only secure 2nd, but to run an age graded 80 (16:26) first since last summer. Not sure what's next. I'm really looking forward to the Bidwell Classic in 4 weeks, and I'm hoping to be closer to 16 minutes by then. It's another flat, fast course. In the meantime, I may run the You Gotta Be Crazy 10k* (6.4m) in Verdi in a couple weeks, and then decide between the Fresh Tracks Snowshoe 5k and the Getty Owl Runs in Sac on the 26th.
No pics from Abby (ok I lied, there's one)- Rocco made sure she had her hands full all morning :)
That's my boy - ready to eat even when he's asleep!

Congrats to everyone who finished a Stampede over the weekend, and I hope to see you all again soon.

Friday, January 27, 2012

TLD enrolls in the Whole Foods Running School

We got the team together for the second time is as many months, though the weather tried to spoil our plans. After weeks of the tamest winter ever recorded in human history, a pair of storms rolled in over the weekend. We lucked out, though. Except for some predicatable delays, we had no problems getting over the hill in either direction. Par for the course we hit up Noodles and Co. at the Galleria for dinner (about a minute walk from the starting line) & stayed at the Hyatt Place a mile up the road. I don't think Amber likes N & C as much as Dave & I, but maybe she'll give em another chance :)
Turi, Amber, & myself would be running the 10k, & Dave the 5, all on slightly different courses than last year. Unfortunately (for your time anyway) they replaced the only completely flat part of the race (save for the first 200) with the hilliest. The forecast had called for wind & rain, but we got pretty lucky. It was windy (& as Murphy's Law states, there was a headwind for 82.6% of the course) but I've been in worse, and the rain mostly held off until after we'd adjourned back to the hotel for our "recovery beverages". I took off at the front, feeling good about the pace, but I didn't recognize anyone at the start, & don't have as good a sense of pace as I do when things are really rollin. Since the first mile was a net drop in elevation (though into a stiff headwind - funny, no tailwind the last mile) I was hoping for a 5:30ish to have a shot at 5:40 pace for the race, but no dice. Just a hair under 5:40 for mile 1, then things got fun. We dropped down onto the bike path along Miner's Ravine, which is a nice running path. Rolling hills, water, a little less exposed to the wind. We did about 4k out before the pace bike dropped off & I turned back against traffic. Mile 2 had been a 5:47 & I felt like I could hold that, or close to it. Hard to tell how big the lead was as we'd passed enough halfers that it was hard to tell who was who on the way back. I did spot Turi & Amber around the half-way point, though.

Mile 3...18:00. What?! It sure didn't feel slower. What the cake? So much for a 35, right? Well, that would have been all she wrote if that was actually mile 3, but it was at least a couple hundred meters long, with mile 4 being a couple hundred short. The 6:33 was followed by a 5:06 (5:49 average, that'll work). Lots of weaving in and out of all 3 distance runners the rest of the way. Didn't see mile 5 in the hills, but noticed the 2 and 12 mile-markers for the 5k & half (which suspiciously were NOT right on top of one another as they should have been). Hmmm...I'm going to have to hustle up this last grade to break 36. O look, there's Dave (I got a ten minute head start. If I punked him he was SUPOSSED TO find the cutest girl in Whole Foods and ask her where the homeopathic Vagasil was)...some cursing and maybe a finger (the Georgia State bird!) as I went by with a minute or so left...35:55, (5:47 per mile) for my first real win since summertime!!! Turi measured the course 6.21 on his GPS which mans it was at least that far. They determined the half was really 13.4, so the times in that one are really a little faster than they seam. I tried to get heavier shoes on and get back on the course to run Turi & Amber in, but they were less than half a mile out when I finally caught up to them, with Amber on her way to running a 50:39 10k pr(!) in far less than ideal conditions (and with Turi as a pacer). Way to go you two. They ended up 39th & 40th out of 276 in the 10k, and Dave finished in 26:16, 77th/407 in the 5k. I was hoping to be a little lower in the 35 range, but I was also counting on getting my @#$ handed to me, so I guess it balanced out.
We adjourned to the hotel for a nice beer tasting with Mark Hicks & Andy Harris, & headed back over the hill in time to see the GMEN set up a rematch of their epic Superbowl with the Our nect race will be Superbowl Sunday in Davis, CA for the Stampede. I've got 8 weeks or so to knock 92 seconds off my time on a faster course to have a chance at matching or beating my Elk Grove 10k time from last year. That's the goal anyway...let's see if the Achilles et al. choose to cooperate :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Year end wrap-up & random musings

Well, I guess it's time to break silence. After taking 13 weeks completely off running (including nearly 7 weeks in that infernal contraption they call a walking boot) I've been moving around on my own two feet for 9 weeks to end 2011. On one hand, there has been progress. I was pretty out of shape, cardiovascularly, after taking the boot off. I'd gained 12-13 pounds (& lost 3!), some of it muscle, but the legs (especially the left) and my core were pretty weak. I compensated by strengethening the other areas more than usual, and am now back to seeking balance.
One of the things I like about running is the purity of it. Numbers don't lie. I can tell to a nearly exact degree how much work needs to be done to get back in the shape I want to be in, because the clock is painfully honest. I've come a long way in that regard in 9 weeks, but, as far as actually being healthy and able to move forward, I'm right where I left off. My right heel is still swolen & a bit angry, but not enough to seriously hamper training & racing. The left (surgically repaired oh so many years ago) Achilles tendon, though, did not really respond at all to the 13 weeks off. I've been walking a very thin line between being able to run & being on the sideline for all of the two months since my return. I still don't know where to go from here, so it's hard to look forward to 2012 with any kind of clarity or long term goal-setting ability.
I usually end each year with a summary of the previous 12 months. This fall, I grew frustrated enough that I stopped keeping a training log, so my numbers are not exact. It was my goal to run 3,000+ miles & do 5,000+ sets of weights/strength exercises. I'm sure I made it over 2,000 in December, ending 2011 with a 50.2 mile week 52, but obviously taking nearly a third of the year off & buildign back up blew any chance of hitting 3k. I'd also guess I did about 6,000 sets of weights...easy to hit that goal when that's all your doin.
2011 only saw a brief glimpse (& by brief I mean two or three races) of fitness levels acheived in 2010, but it was a good year nonetheless. I absolutely LOVED the Steep Ravine run put on by Coastal Trail Runs. Top 2 course...ever! My best performances came in June (before I got sick) at the Fitch Mountain 3k, where I ran my fastest time in 3 years (9:09) and the Firecracker Mile on July 4th (the day before things started the downward spiral) where I somehow held off the field to run my fastest mile in over a decade at 4:25 & change. I ended up running 23 races, if you include the 3 I've done since Thanksgiving. I ran the Turkey Trot in Nevada City on that day, placing 7th. Then the Red Nosed (really - it was in the teens) 3 mile in south Reno (5th) & the Kaia Resolution Run 3-miler in Sac (1st) in 16:36.

Those were all either fun runs, though, or run as such by me, even though I went hard in each. That leaves me 11/23 for the year, with 3 CRs, 9 runner-up finishes, a 3rd, a 5th, & a 7th. I'm already signed up for runs on 1/22 & 2/5, & am hoping to do a lot more after that. Any bright ideas on how to get the Achilles to cooperate (without me breking the bank), please don't hesitate to comment below. Happy New Year!