Saturday, August 17, 2013

Water to Wine Half Marathon

The swag (there's a darker wine in the box, the bottle on the right is a custom label I had made for Abby's first half/33rd Bday:
Going long again - for me anyway. After finally getting back under 17 with a 16:41 5k last week, it was right back to the half marathon distance, but this time without the brewery visits beforehand. And a little more training. The bonus would be that this was in wine country, and would be Abby's first half marathon EVER. We grossly overpaid for a standard hotel, though Dave got his own lil' kids room, and we loaded up on the carbs for a couple days beforehand. I had tweaked my left calf (probably due to the Achilles) three days before, but by race time, it was feeling pretty good by my standards. I did a little bit longer of a warmup to get ready, and we were off. The leader was a 14-minute college 5k runner, so nobody tried to hang with him. Then a pack of 3, with me hanging on the back. Pretty quickly we started to break up. I was in 3rd by mile 1 (a slightly downhill 5:43) and would stay there the rest of the race. 2nd would usually put a few seconds per mile on me pretty regularly. Though I could see him most of the time, this was a very lonely run. Just me and the clock. I was able to come through halfway slightly under goal pace in about 38:16. I knew it would be hard to hold that pace and hit my 1:16+ A goal, as I was feeling it already, but all I had to do was run within 10 seconds per mile to hit my B goal of 1:17 & change. I kept a close eye on my watch as the miles ticked off, and although I ran a couple of the harder miles at 6 minutes+, I was still on pace at each and every mile (total). I hit mile 13 in 1:16:56 and was closing well. Should be under or at 1:17:30. Then, the last 0.1 miles took 1:15 (shoulda been about 33 seconds). What the cake?! When I saw 1:18 on the clock my heart barfed (you didn't know that was possible, did you?) and I crossed in an official 1:18:11. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one to notice this, and all 4 GPS watches we checked had the course at 13.24-13.28 miles. I'm happy that I hit my goal, but disappointed it doesn't show in the results. Abby managed to break 2:00 in her first ever half, running 1:59 (1:58) & change, and Dave shaved a few seconds of his pr, even with the extra couple hundred meters. Although the drive in both directions was ridiculously slow, this was a super fun trip. Thanks to Jim and Betty for taking the kids for the weekend. I plan on keeping an eye out for at least one more fast half to run before the end of the year...I really want to get a 1:16. Til then... The borrowed dog:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Run to Squaw, Redline Longmont Half & Kaleo 5k

I was holding out for some pictures from these races before I bothered with a blog, but one event took a while,and they're not free anymore, and the other event's photographer was supposedly MIA. So no pics. Sorry. I'll keep it short. Kinda. Boring without all the pics. A few weeks ago, Dave and I drove to Tahoe City for the start of the Run To Squaw, a 7.9 mile run on the rolling (but flat for Tahoe) bike path that runs most of the way from the lake to Olympic Village in Squaw. Unknown to us, there were a few course changes since the last time we ran it, but still the beautiful start at Commons Beach, the run along the river, then a slight uphill into Squaw & the heart of the village. Last time I ran this I was in better shape. I'd led from the gun, but blew up badly 3/4 of the way through and ended up 2nd. This time it was my goal to be within 3 minutes of my previous time (course changes not withstanding). I think I was just over, but it was a good race, tactically. I started out letting a couple other set the pace, but took the lead fairly early on. There was one kid who stuck with me after the initial wave went away, and we'd trade the lead a couple times. Within a couple miles, though, I was struggling to keep up, and he seemed incredibly relaxed...playing with the pace (and seemingly with me) as he'd open up gaps on me repeatedly. But - he'd always come back. I couldn't figure it out. Was he scared to lead alone. One thing was for sure. If it came down to a sprint, it was obvious he had another gear that I didn't, but honestly - in my head, I was starting to think about 2nd place and just racing the clock. To do so, would be to my benefit to keep him in sight. So I did. And he kept coming back. One of the changes in the course added a mean short-but-steep dirt hill to jump from the path to the road (to avoid having to cross the FWY). This took out my favorite part of the course, but also was were I unknowingly made my move. It was still fairly early in the race...maaaaybe 2/3 of the way in, but when I went up and over that hill, the challenger (who'd been setting the pace) dropped back for the first time. I still thought the was messing with me. But, eventually, I made the turn to Squaw, still in the lead. And went up and over the main little hill (that broke me last time). The finish had a couple different turns, and a slightly different location (which was unnerving when you're holding on for dear life) but I ended up keeping the lead and winning my first race in nearly a year(!) in just over 6 minute pace. The kid must have been struggling late, because he didn't come in for a couple minutes more. Dave & I went straight to Donner for Rocco's 3rd BDay party (which Abby had put together) for a stress free (bwahahahahaha) afternoon. The Redline Running Co's Longmont 13.1 (really 13.3 :)) was to be the main attraction for the first leg of Abby & I's 10th Anniversary trip. We left the evening of the 4th, and it was early in the morning on the 6th. Here's the problem, though, in 2 parts. 1-I haven't raced anything longer than 12k or so in more than 2 years. 2-there's a LOT of good beer in the Denver area, and to fully appreciate that, we'd do a decent amount of drinking in the days leading up to the race (and of course immediately after). I found out I was in pretty good shape. For an 11 miler. So the race starts right next to some posh houses on a little lake somewhere in NE Longmont. We circled the lake, running either on packed dirt or concrete. That was my only complaint about the race. Concrete is hard, and there was a ton of it. There was also a headwind. As this was a point to point course, I was worried it would stick around for most of the race, but the skies cleared and the winds calmed, and my splits dropped from 6:17 the first two miles to within a second or two from 6:05 per through mile 11. There was one guy that took off in the lead, and I made it my goal to just keep him in sight for as long as possible. He built a pretty good lead, and I seemed to have a pretty good lead on the chase pack behind me. I didn't want to be running solo, but I didn't want to slow down either. Eventually, to my surprise, the gap started to close. By the halfway mark, I was closing fast, and I caught and passed for the lead somewhere after mile 7. Immediately, though, I was running solo again. He didn't stick around, and the bike(s) were juuuust far enough ahead of me to not count as company. Anyway, I ran comfortable and built a big lead through mile 10 before (6:09 pace) before starting to tire. I figured I better drink a sip or two at mile 11, but it was already too late, and I almost barfed it right back up. The last couple miles (where I was supposed to kick when I saw Abby, Ben, and Jamie on their out-and-back 5 miler) were a bit of a death march...but I didn't get caught. I ended up winning my first ever race in Colorado in 1:23.
I noticed that Abby looked to be pretty far up, but I was far too out of it to be counting when I saw her. By the time they did official results, she knew. This will forever be the FIRST time we have ever won on the same day (Abby's first ever win)!! We eventually got outta there and continued on with Ben to a plethora of awesome breweries, and eventually to SoCal for more vacation. I took 6 days between runs after this half, doing some swimming and hot yoga to keep me sane. Hard to tell if it payed off, as I felt very rested and ready to go for a couple days after, then struggled for a week or two before popping off my best effort so far this year... About that. Since I've been lazy, and I STILL have no race pictures from any of these three races, I'll include last weekend's Kaleo's 5k here too. Dave and I got out of town this past weekend and ran at the Sheriff's K9 Training Academy in Sacramento. It was a cool course that ran a quick loop in the campus before heading out on very new, very smooth (and shaded) neighborhood streets. The winning time has been all over the map the first few years, ranging from 15:56 to over 20 minutes. I was shooting for the 16:40's. At the start, two other guys took off, and I eventually tucked in behind them as the kid's burned off. I did the first mile in 5:15, perhaps a little fast, but not reckless. They slowly but surely pulled away from me as my turnover slowed a little. I kept them close, though. Didn't want to get caught from behind and I knew if I stayed in the game mentally, I'd hit my goal time. After an aborted race attempt at Tour de Nez, I needed to do that. Anywho, the kid in the lead started to pull away as we climbed back on the levee off the AR bike path and ran on some pea gravel (the only remotely slowish part of this fast course). Rich Hanna (on the pace bike) offered words of encouragement as he lead us around a 180 turn. I believe I responded hhhhhhngnnngggggg. Or something like that. I couldn't catch up. but kept my pace in the 5:20's (5:23 average) for a 3rd place finish in 16:41 - so far my fastest post surgery 5k and the first within a minute of my 15:45 pr. Dave came in a hair over 8 minute pace, and after some traffic, we spent a great deal of time at Drake's BC before a TRX workout and a trail run at Breakout Fitness in Folsom the next morning. That was the first time since the Folsom Trail Series a few years ago I've been on the Negro Bar Trail. VERY cool. Next up...Water to Wine Half. And hopefully some pictures.