Sunday, September 30, 2012

CIM Training Week Six & Bizz Johnson Preview

Week six of the marathon training is in the books, and I am feeling the familiar soreness that comes with building mileage and effort. It is worst in the mornings, as I hobble out of bed. My ankles and calves are stiff, but loosen up within 15 minutes of rising. Keeping with the trend, I failed to make all of my scheduled runs, but feel good about the mileage I did complete, only missing 5 easy miles or so.

Tuesday: Easy 8 miles along the Bay in heart rate zone 2 (132-141), average pace 8:45

Wednesday: I substituted a 10 mile trail run in the Marin Headlands for the cruise/tempo run I had planned; 10.68 miles, 2122 feet of elevation, average pace 11:23

Saturday: Cystic Fibrosis 5K, average pace 7:37 and a 14 mile run home, 3520 feet of elevation, average pace 11:30

Totals: 36.12 miles, 5984'/5343' elevation ascent/descent

The 14 miler over Banner Mountain, after racing 5K, was tough on tired legs. Tacking on mileage after racing has been a good learning experience for the later miles at Bizz Johnson. I have been incorporating more hills trying to build more hip and quad strength, even though the Bizz Johnson course does not present any significant climbs.

What the Bizz Johnson 50K does offer is a small ascent of ~300 feet over the first 10 miles followed by a steady descent of over 1300 feet over the final 20 miles. Check out the marathon profile compared to some popular California races:

Many use the Bizz as a Boston Qualifier, taking advantage of the drop in elevation. The Bizz Johnson Trail "follows the route of the old Fernley and Lassen Branch Line of the Southern Pacific Railroad, built in 1914", according to the race website. The last 10 miles are in the Susan River canyon and the course crosses the river ten times on wooden bridges, and with 4 miles to go, the course takes the runners through two train tunnels 450-800 feet long. I have been told that the tunnels are filled with glow sticks and lanterns to help keep people from getting hurt running in the dark. Sounds novel. Overall, the course is a perfect 50K on which to cut my ultra teeth: smooth, net downhill, beautfiul. The only drawback is the elevation. At 4200'-5600', it is twice as high as I have been racing in the foothills, and obviously my sea level training around the Bay is not providing any conditioning for the thin air at elevation.

There are a number of other races held over the course of the weekend. An "Express Half Marathon" follows the last half of the marathon course and is held on Saturday, which is also when the runner check in for the marathon and 50K is held in Susanville. Sunday's events include the 50K, marathon, another half marathon (which uses the last quarter of the marathon/50K route as an out-and-back) and a 10K (an out-and-back on the last 3 miles of the course). Unfortunately, there is no spectator/crew access on the course, so Twirly will have to enjoy the other action at the finish line while waiting for David and me to finish, hopefully in a relaxed and pedestrian 6 hours.

UPDATE: Crew/spectator access is allowed after all. Twirly will be able to drive to three of the aid stations to provide support, encouragement and get some pix/video.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Race Report: Cystic Fibrosis 5K 2012

The ninth race in the 2012 Gold Country Grand Prix was the Cystic Fibrosis 5K, sponsored by Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and held on the trails at Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. The course started down rolling gravel road and alternated between rocky single track and dirt fire road before climbing to finish where it began near the headworks of the main mineshaft. The shade of ponderosa pines and oak trees ensured that the 9am start did not result in excessive temperatures, which I was concerned about after my runs on Catalina Island last week.

Twirly dropped me off at ten to nine and I hustled over to the registration table to get my bib and tote bag. Warming up was truncated due to the 14 miles I planned to run after the race (my marathon training called for 17); I just did some strides in the parking lot to get my heart rate up before the start. I looked around to see who was participating from my age group and saw that Machen, whom I am chasing for second place, was present, but Kevin (chasing me for third) was not. Coming in, my strategy was to stay ahead of Machen and not let Kevin get more than a spot ahead of me, and Kevin's absence made things simple: go out on Machen's hip and stay there until it is time to kick to the finish, that way I could reserve my energy for my long run home and still make up a couple of points on second place. Twirly made it to the start line in time, but did not get any successful pictures of the herd as we charged down the gravel road.

Even though I was near the front of the pack, the cloud of dust became uncomfortably thick during the first half mile. I started as planned, right on Machen's hip. It seemed that every time I slowed to ensure I stuck with him, he slowed as well. We yo-yo'd back and forth as the descending road became single track and it was obvious I was going to have to abandon my lurker plan and just go out and hold a lead. The trail had become fast and I felt comfortable using my new downhill skills to build a gap while I could. My first mile clicked by at 6:57, and I knew that climbing back up that hill was going to require some energy. A quick check of my body (good, no niggles) and surroundings (no footfalls or heavy breathing behind me) gave me enough confidence to back off a bit for the relatively flat second mile. I found myself running with the familiar faces of the top women and the other usual second to third place men aged 30-39 & 50-59. The second mile went by at 6:59.

As I expected, the last mile required some power hiking, and at that point I let my fellow racers pull away up the hill, as I had no one giving chase (at least not Machen!). I picked up the pace as I neared the finish, and clocked a 22:23, 18th overall, my third fastest 5K and second place for my age group. Second place in the Grand Prix is only three points away with two races remaining. A lot depends on which race Rob, the first place runner (clinched the lead by dozens of points) decides to run. I can accrue enough points for second place if he opts for the 5K's. Since my goal is a top three (which is secure as long as I show up), and I am focused on marathon training, I will likely not be too competitive in the final two 10K races. Just like today, I have a long run scheduled on the next race day, and the final race in the series, the Turkey Trot, comes just ten days before the marathon.

The volunteers and course marshals were really helpful and supportive. Quite a few were from the local tri-athalon team, and their encouragement was heartfelt. There was plenty of Gatorade and water at the finish, but no aid along the course, which was not too much of an issue due to the shade and comfortable temperatures.

After the awards ceremony I pounded a bottle of water, ate a Chia Surge gel and set off to run 14 miles home. The long runs are beginning to hurt more near the end, but my recovery is getting shorter, so I think everything is in order for the Bizz Johnson 50K next weekend!

Here is the Garmin data from the race:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CIM Training Week Five & Santa Catalina Island

As I return to reality and day to day life, the surreal calm that accompanies the sailing lifestyle slips away slowly, leaving a familiar void. Every time we go cruising, I am reminded that there is another way to live that does not rely on timetables, deadlines or the hustle and bustle of modern life. Only matters of consequence are important: eat, drink, don't sink the boat. Running remains an ever-present priority, but when and where are deliciously random.

Approaching Isthmus Cove
Our trip was too short, as all vacations are, but left me feeling rested and relaxed. Six days is barely enough time to settle  into the pace of a sailor's life, but Twirly and I did our best to fully appreciate the trip and honor each other for our sixth anniversary. The week was a whirlwind of swimming, sun-worshipping and spending time with friends.

OK in the kelp forest

I got two days of scuba diving with Hugh. The flora and fauna were diverse, and we saw kelp forests, fans, fish,  rays, lobster, an octopus and  plenty of nudibranchs. The nudibranchs always pique my curiosity; they assume some strange forms and do an excellent job of looking like their surroundings.

Looking East towards Little Harbor
I managed to fit in two runs during the trip, both hilly by default. My first run took me across the Isthmus ~1 mile and 900 feet up a steep slope, which took about thirty minutes to climb. I had to stop and take pictures pretty often, as the views up and down the island rivaled those of the Marin Headlands. I ran a ridge along the south side of the isthmus, and would have  continued towards the interior of the island, but I encountered 70 people on horseback and promptly turned back to the harbor. I rounded out the run with an out and back to the USC Marine Biology lab. After 7.5 miles I met my crew mates at the beach bar for some libations, fish tacos and bison burgers. The trademark cocktail of Catalina Island is the Buffalo Milk, a blended concoction with whipped cream drizzled with Kahlua, and a few were consumed during the trip.  There are live bison roaming the island (some kid got gored about a month ago) which Twirly saw, but I never encountered. My other run was the weekly long run. 16 easy miles on the schedule, but in order to get 16 easy, I would have had to do 2 mile laps along the Avalon waterfront amidst the Saturday morning art fair patrons. I am not a crowd person, so I opted for an out and back along the Trans-Catalina Trail, which provided some vertical, and stellar views from the mainland to San Clemente Island along the divide of the island.

If I learned anything on my first run, it was that it got HOT after 11am, so I planned to start at 8, but ended up about an hour late. I chalked it up to Island time and set out with 3 Gu's, two Picky bars and 70oz of water.

Catalina Harbor

My route wound up the east side of Avalon, past the uber-mansions of the Wrigley's and Hollywood types, to the dirt road that is the Trans-Catalina trail, which runs the length of the island. Over the first five miles, I gained 1500 feet. The grade was runnable, but I had to hike much of the climb to keep my heart rate under control. I felt the temperature climbing as I made my way up the grade.

Avalon Harbor

Once I gained the divide trail, things became more runnable,  rolling from peak to peak. At mile 7, I came across the "garden to sky" trail head, which is where the Catalina Marathon course joins the Trans-Catalina trail. This was the only place I saw other runners and hikers.

The Trans-Catalina Trail climbs from the East End

The Divide Trail

I was dehydrated and spent for the descent into Avalon, not capable of the pace I had hoped to exploit on my return trip. Running downhill at 11:00/mile felt comfortable and safe. When I returned to town, all I wanted was Gatorade and more water! I had some problems taking in calories on this run, due to the heat. Gu's went down OK, but chewing solid food was a nuisance. Fortunately, the next six months are all about nutrition, hydration and electrolytes as I prepare for the American River 50 miler.

The Avalon Casino (no, there is no gambling)

My last 5K of the year is this Saturday in Grass Valley, and the Bizz Johnson 50K is the next Sunday. After the 5K, David is joining me for the run home over Banner Mountain. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to try different fueling strategies in the 50K, even if I may end up miserable for trying some of them.

The Isthmus - Catalina Harbor and Isthmus Cove
The Garmin data for the 16 miler:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rest and Relaxation: Sailing and Scuba Diving as Cross Training

After my satisfying Half Marathon in San Francisco, Twirly and I packed up and flew south to Long Beach to join friends Hugh and Nikki aboard their Catalina 36, Island Girl. They had invited us to crew for their maiden voyage across the San Pedro Channel to Catalina Island for the week, and we jumped on the chance to be cruising during our anniversary.

The conditions for the sail across the channel were awesome! 16 knots of wind had Island Girl charging through three to six foot swells, and we arrived at Isthmus Cove about five hours after casting off the dock lines.

The next five days are wide open, with no real schedule, just lots of opportunities to swim, scuba dive, hike, run, fish, eat and drink. Just what the doctor ordered!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Race Report: Giant Race Half Marathon 2012

The Giant Race Half Marathon begins and ends at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. I had been looking forward to this race all summer, as the finish line is on the ball field, and runners get to hang out on the grass to cool down after the race. Plus, the course is pretty flat, following the waterfront on a tour from the financial district, through Fisherman's Wharf, Fort Mason, Crissy Field and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge before turning back and following the waterfront back to the ball park. In addition to the awesome course, I had changed my plans from using the race as a long training run to actually racing and trying to set a new PR for the half marathon distance, 1:45 (8:00/mile pace).

KT Tape for the Achilles
 In the week since my last race, my legs had felt like lead. My pace was good, but I did not feel fluid or as comfortable as I would expect for any given pace. I made a choice to skip my Wednesday tempo run, and I visited my chiropractor for some A.R.T. on Thursday, hoping to loosen up any knots in my soleus and psoas. I took Friday and Saturday as rest days in order to feel fresh for Sunday morning's race.
 I began waking up hours before the alarm went off, but tried to relax and stretch a little while I dozed. Once up, I had my pre-race muesli (yogurt, raw rolled oats, berries, pears and nuts) and assembled all the gear I had laid out: race kit (I really dig the Icebreaker merino wool shorts for races and long runs), Garmin, Roctane Gu's, NuuN, Endurox recovery drink and Picky Bars. Traveling across the Bay was uneventful, and the traffic was flowing outside the Park, but beginning to back up out approaching the parking lots south of China Basin.

The 10K and Half Marathon start
Twirly dropped me off at 7:15 and then drove to Sports Basement at Crissy Field to get some mid-race video before driving back to the ball park to catch the finish, so I was left alone in the throng of participants. The 5K began at 8:00 am, so I got to watch 5000 runners queue up for that start, one for every meter. The race wasn’t long enough for the pack to spread out! Many of the 5K runners were finished before the 10K/Half Marathon start at 8:30, and the momentum of the event was palpable. I lined up in the corral halfway between the 1:40 group and the 1:50 group, near the 8:00/mile sign. Jumping around and trying to keep loose and warm, I did a quick body check and felt that the Achilles was 'talking', but not saying anything offensive. A couple of runners complimented me on on my orange and black Mizuno Ronin 2's, my go to shoe for road racing. I also wear them to Giant's games. Perfect shoe for this race. The crowd of runners counted down to the 10K/Half Marathon start. We were off. Sort of.
Not nervous... OK, a little
With thousands of runners behind me, the clock read 1:15 as I crossed the line and started my Garmin. The first mile began at 14:00 pace, but 8:43 later, we were one mile in and everyone had room to run. We ran down Embarcadero, under the Bay Bridge, to the cheers of volunteers and cheerleaders. I took stock and decided I needed to run about 7:52/mile over the next five miles to get on pace. I settled into a comfortably hard rhythm, kept my heart rate below 155 and cruised on down the road, enjoying the views of the Bay and city. Mile two ended 7:49 later, so I was pretty happy with myself at this point. I still felt comfortable and was having a great time. Everyone around me was having a great time. I would pass people, and other people would pass all of us, and it was easy running. The first four miles got faster and easier. Before I knew it, we were leaving Fisherman's Wharf and heading a block inland (and uphill) to go around Fort Mason. I felt strong on the little hill, and quickly got my heart rate back after cresting. I even managed to click off a 7:58 mile, not giving any time back against my goal. It was awesome. I celebrated with a Gu.  
The Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the course
The course flattened out again as we ran past the marina and its expanse of grass. I knew Twirly would be around 5 1/2 miles, and the thought invigorated me (the Gu helped too). The Golden Gate Bridge dominated the view of the Bay, its towers stretched unseen into the clouds. I could see Twirly down the road and waved to her from about a quarter mile away. She shouted some encouragement as I did my best Jorge Maravilla impression and gave her a thumbs up.   
Twirly also caught some video of the race winner, Brett Gotcher (1:04:19). Look at him go!  
The turn-around, which was remarkably close to 6.55 miles (the actual half-way point) changed the view from the Golden Gate and back to the city and the Bay Bridge beyond. I realized, as I admired the city from this vantage, that I had to run around all that I saw before I would be at the finish. That was the first pang of discomfort. The course followed the beach back to the marina, and I began to pick up the pace for the last half. My plan was to run a negative split (run a faster second half), which I always try to do, but have not really executed well. My split at halfway was about 52 minutes. I could run a minute slower in the second half and still meet my goal of 1:45. I picked up the pace.
Over so soon?
The return course took us closer to the water through Fort Mason, and along Aquatic Park before spilling into Fisherman's Wharf. As a result, the hilly section was a little easier, and I shaved 10 seconds off my previous trip over. At mile ten, I ate another Gu and did a body check. My feet were 'talking' and I could feel my hips, but my pace felt good, so I kept picking someone to pass, and reeling them in. I passed some runners that had passed me in the first half (some were walking now) and began to smell the barn.
I was amazed at how many buildings along Embarcadero look like AT&T Park! Big, imposing brick buildings were suddenly everywhere. Some runners refused to be passed, speeding up as I approached, only to slow down a minute later and repeat the oscillation. “Relax, run tall”, I reminded myself. When the Bay Bridge and the light towers of the ball park came into view, I knew my goal was in the bag. So I asked myself, how low can I set this PR? My last three miles were 7:34, 7:32 and 7:27, and I kicked the final 0.1 mile coming into the stadium at 5:36 pace! I was surprised at the finish because I thought we would be running around the warning track before crossing the line, but as I rounded the corner through the gate and onto the field, there it was at center field, and suddenly, I was across and done. My time was 1:41:13 by the timing chip, a new PR and 296th place out of 4000 finishers. I even pulled off the negative split: 51:25 out/49:48 in. They hung my medal around my neck and I grabbed a bottle of water, heading towards first base where Twirly was waiting to meet me in the stands. There was no fruit left, only bagels. I guess the 5K and 10K finishers needed some sustenance, but the planners could have rationed the refreshments better. I grabbed some figs we had brought, my recovery drink and some NuuN and went out onto the field to stretch, soak in the good feelings of a race run well, and enjoy the field while I could.  

Knowing I still had some in the tank

In retrospect, the volunteers were really supportive, the course was well marked, and I cannot say it enough, finishing on the field and getting to feel the grass, and look up into the stands... It is a really special race. I will probably try to talk Twirly into doing the 5K so we can hang on the field together next time.
The new PR gives me a lot to think about as far as how I expect to do at CIM in December, and I think my goal of completing the US Half Marathon in November in 1:40 is within reach. My father continues to provide me with some rationality in my goal setting. "I think trying to run a first marathon with a goal anywhere near 3:30 is impractical", he says. I'm tending towards 3:45, but know I could beat 4 hours. I feel like I have been setting my goals too conservatively, but then again, I missed a 21 minute 5K goal by almost 30 seconds last August. Maybe I'm getting better at knowing where I am in my fitness. Whatever is going on, time will tell.
Party on the ball field

Here is the Garmin data:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Preview: Giant Race Half Marathon

Pretty cool race swag! My team grows...
The Giant Race Half Marathon is in two days. I stopped by the expo today to pick up my race bib, timing chip, tech t-shirt and my Matt Cain Bobble Head!

When I signed up for this race, I was looking for 13.1 miles to get a sense of where I was in my marathon training. I chose this race because the finish line is on the field at AT & T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giant's! If that weren't enough, I found out a month later that the race swag included this Matt Cain bobble head. I've always been a pitcher's fan, and after Cain threw a perfect game this summer, I thought this would be a perfect addition to my bobble head baseball team on my desk :)

This will also be the first race I have participated in that provides pacing groups. For those who are not familiar: a pacing group is led by a runner who is capable of running the race at least 10 minutes faster than the goal time in which he or she intends to finish the race. When I signed up, I chose the 1:45 pace group, and that is still my goal, which will be a PR for me at the half marathon distance. 8:00 miles for just under two hours? I feel like I can pull it off; my Achilles is under control, my chiropractor has given me some good stretches to work on, and I have to leave it all out there on the course, because my marathon training will be derailed the following week due to our vacation.

Wish me luck!
The expo, in all, was a little disappointing. Not many giveaways or product samples, just Chobani yogurt and some laundry detergent :(
At least the t-shirt is tech, so I'll wear it! And of course, the Perfect Cain bobble head will always remind me of the event... Watch for the race report on Sunday.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

American Canyon 50K and CIM Training Week Three

The American Canyon 50K is three years old in 2013. In 2012, the race was held on the morning of my 40th birthday. My longest distance raced, at that point, was 10K (around my 39th birthday, I ran the Davis Stampede) so I figured an additional 5K, plus some real trail running, would be a logical progression to my running accomplishments. My friend David was inspired by my endeavor, and decided to join me.

The 15K course begins at Overlook Park in Auburn and descends to the American River before turning around at "No Hands Bridge" for the climb back up to the overlook. I really enjoyed the fact that it incorporated some of the Western States trail, and I would imagine being at the end of the 100 miler, climbing out of the canyon, as I was training on the course. During the race itself I hung back with David for the first third and then picked up the pace to see how many people I could pass. It was the first time anyone had ever said "good job" to me during a race, and I heard it from the back of the packers still making their way down to the river and from those I passed on the way to the finish. I placed 2nd overall and won my age group for the first time! Granted, there were only a dozen entrants, but hey, it still felt good!

With those fond memories, I had been struggling with the decision between the 25K or the 50K in 2013. The 50K course covers more of the Western States trail, and I have the advantage of an excellent resource in Tim Long, who won the 2012 50K while setting the course record. I will have had two months to recover from the California International Marathon, and I want to do the Way Too Cool 50K in March, but there is no guarantee I will win a spot in that coveted race due to the lottery for entry. Fortunately, before I got too stressed out about the decision, David told me had pulled the trigger in the 50K, so there it was. The challenge had been laid down, and now there are two races on my 2013 schedule.

Now I have to start wondering what I should do with the rest of the year? I really want to run the Dipsea, but that legendary race is also difficult to get an entry, as it is first come first served by mail! The Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler looks interesting, as do all the races in the Marin Headlands, like the Headlands 50/100 and the North Face Endurance Challenge. And then there's the possibility of another road marathon...

Speaking of marathons, CIM training week three is in the books, and I am finally getting my prescribed miles! I shifted the mid-week runs around a little, but hit every run on the schedule, peaking with 14 miles on Saturday (10K racing, then ran home over Banner Mountain). The ankles and calves are pretty stiff, but nothing some trigger point rolling and A.R.T. won't remedy. I feel like I have a good base heading into the fall. The Giant's Half Marathon next weekend should be fun; I'm going to try to best my PR by over 3 minutes. I figure if I can run a 1:45 next weekend, and a 1:40 in November at the US Half Marathon, I'll be on track for a 3:30 debut marathon in December. There is a lot of training between now and then though. One race at a time!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Race Report: Race to End Hunger 10K

The eighth race in the Gold Country Grand Prix is the Race to End Hunger 5K/10K in Nevada City, benefiting the Food Bank of Nevada County. The course is a mix of paved road, dirt road and sidewalk as it winds its way over Deer Creek on the Pine Street Bridge and then through Nevada City, over American Hill and out Old Downieville Highway. There are many turns and opportunities to go off course, which some did today, but overall the course is challenging and the views were outstanding. There are hills at the beginning and end, with a nice flat out and back in the middle miles.

I woke early and had my traditional pre-race breakfast of muesli (yogurt, rolled oats, berries, pears and nuts) and got my gear together for the day. My marathon training program called for 14 miles today, so I planned to run home over Banner Mountain after the race wrapped up. That meant bringing my Nathan hydration pack and enough energy gels to get me home. In addition, I chose to wear my CEP calf compression sleeves and my New Balance 1080V2's, which I normally reserve for long distance training runs, not races.

Upon arrival at the race, I immediately began scanning the crowd of runners for any men in my age group. After the last race I had a precarious one point lead over fourth place Kevin, who had been my main competition for second place in the 10K races thus far. He pulled up lame in the Bear River 5K, and skipped the Kellerman race last month, so I had mixed feelings about his participation. On one hand, I hoped he did not show so that I could run a comfortable race and secure third place in the standings, on the other hand, I would never wish injury on a fellow runner. I would much rather earn third place than merely outlast the competition to achieve my top three goal at the end of the season. It was my lucky day as he did not show up; I wish him a fast recovery and hope to see him at the remaining three races (easy to say now that I have 8 points on him!).

I signed in and got my mammoth swag tote bag filled with three chocolate bars, stickers, water, candy, cookies and Kettle Chips and race bib. I gave my hydration pack to Twirly, ran a quick quarter mile to get the blood flowing and joined the runners as they corralled at the start line. Bjorn Jones, the perennial 10K winner of the Grand Prix, remarked that he had stumbled across Wanderplace and read the Kellerman 10K report. It's always nice to hear from the people that have been reading, as unless you comment, you're all just page hits without faces! The race director outlined the course and its myriad turns, counted us down, and we were off.


 As I had eight miles to run after the race concluded and regardless of how I placed I would retain my position in the point standings, I had the rare pleasure of not feeling the need to keep touch with the lead runners. I actually kept my heart rate in control, under 160, for the first half mile. Then we hit the first hill and it began to creep up, so I transitioned to a power hike. After attending two of Tim Long's hill running clinics, I am a believer in transitioning to the power hike whenever there is a hill I cannot see over, even in road races. It is amazing how many people I pass or keep pace with when I utilize this strategy. All told, I hiked probably half a mile of the course. Once we left Nevada City and began running the Old Downieville Highway, the course flattened out quite a bit and I was able to get into a nice running rhythm, clicking off remarkably even 8:00 miles. There was a short out and back, which enabled me to see who was chasing me: the second and third place women and the third place man in my age group. I had a comfortable lead of a couple hundred meters, and still did not want to race too much, but the second place woman (Angie, I believe her name is) was trying hard to catch me, and she was close enough at times that I could hear her breathing. I credit her with pushing me to the finish line much faster than if I had been alone. 

Always love getting the hardware!
About a mile from the finish there was one last hill to climb, which felt pretty insulting at that point, but I used the power hike again and had plenty of juice left at the top to cruise back through Nevada City and over the creek to a 9th place overall and second in the Men 40-49 age group in 46:36. The finish line surprised me, despite being exactly where I had left it, because my Garmin said 5.77 miles, and 46:36 is a new 10K PR by about a minute, but hey, a PR is a PR. Some courses are hilly, some are flat, and some are hilly and short!
There was some confusion at the finish, as apparently I had been given a 5k bib number and they were missing a finisher, or something, but they straightened it out quickly and the awards were handed out to all the top finishers. A huge thank you to the Food Bank of Nevada County and all the volunteers at the race today. Their encouragement on course was effusive, and the logistics of the race felt smooth and efficient. There were some course marking issues as some runners got lost, and the overall 10K distance wasn't quite long enough, but it was an awesome way to spend a Saturday morning for a great cause, and the swag bag was full of tasty treats.

After the awards, I donned my trusty Nathan hydration pack (oh so comfortable!), ate a Hammer gel and trotted out of the parking lot. I had three miles and about 1000 feet to climb up the shoulder of Banner Mountain before a 5 mile traverse through the woods to get home, which I completed in a pedestrian 90 minutes. Now that I am showered and have regurgitated the morning's events, I must get off the couch before my legs turn to cement!

Here is my Garmin data from the race (click on view details for, er, details)

Monday, September 3, 2012

CIM Training Week Two and Footfeathers Clinics

Tennessee Valley, photo courtesy of Margaret Gagnon
Week two of marathon training is in the books, and my fall racing schedule is getting into full swing. Last week's scheduled runs went out the window due to, well, life, but I feel like it was good training none-the-less. I had two short runs planned for Tuesday and Thursday, but neither happened. Six miles Monday, seven miles Thursday went well, but a long run of 13 miles planned for Saturday failed to fully manifest.

Jesse, me, Tim and Kara overlooking the Tiburon Peninsula,
photo courtesy of Christopher Himmel
Twirly hopped on a friend's boat to help crew a sail from Alameda to Half Moon Bay early Saturday morning, so after I dropped her off at the marina, I headed to Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands for the first of two weekend running clinics hosted by Tim Long, of Footfeathers Coaching. I had attended one of Tim's hill running clinics over the summer and felt that the tools he provided were paying off during training and racing, plus he's a really nice guy and we have some common interests besides running (beer and food). Saturday's clinic was Race Planning and Preparation. He had some help from Kara Teklinski presenting the material, covering a bunch of topics: studying the course, race logistics, crew/pacers, race reports, travel and tapering. He handed out samples of the very tasty Vi Fuel energy gels, a new sponsor for Tim, and after the clinic the group headed out for a run. Some turned back early, but four of us ended up doing a conversationally comfortable ten mile loop and about 2000 feet of elevation before heading for some seafood and ridiculously large beers served in quart mason jars at fish. in Sausalito.
Race Planning Clinic, photo courtesy of Margaret Gagnon
I am considering hiring Tim as a coach after the marathon, as I begin training for the American River 50 Mile in April. I have always enjoyed planning my own training, but as I make the transition to longer races, I feel like some guidance will keep me on track and provide some accountability in my training. However, at the conclusion of our ten mile run, I wanted to get the other three in to complete my 13 miles I had planned. That's when Tim the "enabler" showed his stripes as he told me and Kara (who he already coaches) we could just "make them up tomorrow". So much for accountability. It did show his flexibility, of course, and it also got us to the restaurant and giant beers faster!

Masochists, each and every one, photo courtesy of Margaret Gagnon
Sunday morning's Hill Running clinic was in Tennessee Valley, also in the headlands just north of Rodeo. Tim had originally planned to hold the clinic on the Coastal Trail as it climbed out of the valley towards Pirate's Cove, arguably the prettiest trail in the headlands. Kara and I were part of a group who left the parking lot a few minutes behind the large group Tim led down the valley, and after we were separated, there was some confusion about where Tim took the group. While I had planned to tack on the 8 miles I had omitted for the week, I had not planned to run 5 miles up the wrong trail while missing the first half of the clinic, but that is indeed how it played out.
Me on the left, Chris Wehan (4th place Miwok 100K) on the right,
photo courtesy of Margaret Gagnon
All was not lost, as I won an American River 50 Mile Endurance Run Patagonia tech tee from Norcal Ultras in the raffle at the conclusion of the clinic. That makes two raffles in a row where I have won AR50 gear. I feel the running gods are calling me to this race. Still seven months away, I have a lot to focus on before then.

After the clinic, I packed up the Tacoma and drove south to the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club to meet up with Twirly and the rest of her crew for the annual Labor Day party. This morning I got an easy six in along the beach in a dense fog. Coastal California running has so many faces; I truly love the diversity available within an hour of where we have Kuani moored. I really feel blessed.

Next weekend is the Run for Hunger 10K in Nevada City. A Gold Country Grand Prix race benefiting the local food bank. The following week is the Giant's Half Marathon, which finishes on the field at AT&T Park. I have been planning to use the Giant's race as a training run, but Twirly and I have been invited to crew aboard another friend's sailboat for the following week. We'll be scuba diving most days, and I am not sure how much of my training schedule will be practical. After speaking with Tim, I am leaning towards racing the half marathon, and then using the week spent sailing to rest, with a few progression runs when possible, and of course, getting that long run in (which will be 16 miles that week). I'm excited about the whole trip, but the idea of a 16 miler on Catalina Island has got me looking for just the right route.

The month finishes with another Grand Prix race, the Cystic Fibrosis 5K, and then the Bizz Johnson 50K is the weekend following. Four races in five weeks with a week of diving and sailing thrown in for good measure. Some say I'm living the dream, but I say I'm simply living the life my dreams have chosen for me.

Some Garmin data for the curious: