Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Maybe I've mentioned this before, I love riding my bike. More so this year and I think it's because I haven't been riding it much lately what with all this running that I've been doing. It's nice to be going so fast with so little weight, to be covering ground at a much quicker yet smoother pace.
Yesterday I skipped track for an easy ride. Body's been slow to recover from the Sat/Sun workouts so I decided against track. Been waking up tired like I hadn't gotten any sleep, waking up as tired as when I went to bed. Also the left achilles, where it connects with the calf muscle, has been quite tight and sore. Sunday night it was making a clicking noise when I walked down a hill or the stairs - scary! It was definitely time for some rest and active recovery. Besides there would be no taking it easy in track. The moment I see my friends in my pace group I will race against them. Most of them know I'm an ultra-marathoner and I always feel that I've got something to prove. Like I need to prove to them that we long distance guys can hustle like everyone else, like we're not just about the walking and jogging - we can run like the dickens on a flat course too. Anyway the injury is fine now, no worries, although I might have to stop the hill repeats, they seem to bring the issue on.
So anyway I went for an easy bike ride instead. Serena joined in as well when she found out I was skipping Track for the bike. Hey I didn't say anything, all I said was "you need the bike more than the run right now" and she volunteered to join me. She's got a Half-Ironman event at the end of July and her weakest event is the bike. She needs to be biking, biking, and more biking. But hey it was just a suggestion, I didn't actually tell her to skip track:)
The wind was so fierce. Heading out on the bike towards the Golden Gate the gusts would seriously slow our progress. So we made the decision to stay in San Francisco. Crossing the bridge on those winds would have been a major pain. We stayed in San Francisco doing loops in the Presidio, we utilized an old YMCA Triathlon training route. It was a big loop divided into two parts, the first half was recovery and the second half a speed interval. The speed part was fun because the wind was on our backs. I let Serena take the lead so I could check her speed and form. She would hit 26/27 mph, which was quite good. Now I wonder how fast I could've gone? hmmm...should have checked. 26/27 is what I hit on a windless day. After about 4 loops of this we meandered around the Presidio a bit before heading home.
I was freezing by the time we got back. How did it get so cold all of a sudden? So I accepted a ride home. Before home we headed to our favorite grocery store. I felt very silly in my cycling clothes but I also needed the food. I did have one of Serena's extra tee's to wear but apparently I only succeeded in putting it on backwards. Sweet. Nothing like shopping for food in spandex, cycling shoes and a tee worn backwards. I ain't laughing now though. I'm drinking some of the red vino I picked up:)
Sore calf is doing much better. Got more sleep and I'm no longer waking up tired. When in doubt rest! I've adopted that motto as well in my training.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The gang after a good run on the Dipsea Trail. Click here for more photos.
Everyone should have a Memorial day like I experienced it. I won't give any details out though, it'll just make some of you jealous. Let's just say I had all the time to do what I wanted...ya'll understand time right. Exactly what I needed.
Anyway as promised, a short run report from Sunday. Whew that day started early, I woke up at 5:30 and out the door a quarter to 7AM. I'm a night owl and I won't sleep early just because I have to get up early the next day - it's a weakness I know. So I not only do I have the fatigue from a workout to deal with but also the exhaustion from the lack of sleep. Maybe one day I'll be smarter about this...someday. Anyway I was all psyched up because some folks from my Tri-club were meeting at Mill Valley for a trail run at 11AM. I thought it would be a great idea to finish up my long run with their workout, 11AM is more than reasonable. Company on the trail! I was all over it. Also the day before I invited Garett Graubins and his wife Holly to join us. They had just recently moved here from Colorado and were looking for folks to run with. Never met them in person but Garett has been a frequent poster to the ultra list, an email list for ultra-marathoners that I subscribe to.
Everything was working properly on Sunday, muscles were tired but not exhausted from the hill repeats the day before. Overall feeling was amazingly great, which only fired me up even more. It made me laugh but psyched me up at the same time. I was in a spectacular mood. The weather was perfect again which only elevated my mood even more if that was even possible. What an amazing morning. I left late so I had to hustle, got lost a couple of times utilizing trails I never used before so I had to hurry even more, this included running on very narrow and twisty highway 1 onto uncoming traffic - I don't want to ever do that again. Sa'll good though. Nevertheless I still managed to get there in time...well sorta...I rolled in at 11:02. It was a small group, what with it being Memorial day and the majority of our triathletes tapering for "Escape from Alcatraz" which was taking place this coming weekend. But our group was an excited eager group, a good group of good people - what more could you ask.
More running ensued naturally. The skies were absolutely clear, no haze. We could see all the way to San Francisco and Oakland from the top of the ridges. Garett and Holly were absolutely loving the trail and I stayed with them to play guide, which was absolutely cool because I was tiring out at this point. I think Garett and Holly were still feeling their move, that and they kept admiring the views. I was very pleased that they enjoyed themselver, it's always great when people appreciate what you love. We didn't go all the way to Stinson Beach. The goal was to keep the run at about two hours. I don't know why, I found this out that morning, nevertheless it was fine with me.
Definitely tired when we got done, I could have taken a nap then but it was on to a late lunch. If I was tired then I was really exhausted by the time I got back to my apartment just before 4PM. No rest though since church was at 4PM! Rolling in late as usual it was a small miracle I didn't fall asleep during the sermon. Then it was dinner with the usual gang after the service. I've been neglecting my church friends because of all my training. I needed to go - no excuses. However after dinner I got talked into a movie at someone's home, an old John Wayne classic. Thankfully my ride tired out before me and I was home before midnight:) Now I have to rent the flick at Netflix. Whew it was a full day.
I hope everyone had a great Holiday Weekend.
Monday, May 29, 2006
So it's another beautiful day here in the bay. What makes it especially nice is that there has been no fog in the evenings. Skies stayed clear all night. The wind did pick up however which caught some of us off guard. All these years in SF and I still get caught not carrying enough clothing for the sudden change in temperatures and micro climates...tsk...tsk.
I am however quite content to be sitting in this room for the moment, drinking coffee and posting. In a bit I will do some Bible reading and finish a netflix movie. I've had it for 8 days now and have viewed it twice, third time should be the charm for finishing it. Great story (Empire of the Sun)but I just haven't had the time. I'll leave the window open to enjoy the weather:)
Anyway had another great run yesterday and this time I brought my camera. Got great pictures for ya'll.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
So I set up a new account. This time with the Mac app that came with my iMac. No more Microsoft email app's! I lost all my contact info though. Yeah a bummer. Well we'll see. I paid $18 bucks for a software that is supposed to recover mail from my corrupted database. The trial version worked so let's see what the real thing will do. I'm waiting for my password key that will unlock the program.
Yes I know exciting stuff.
Had a good run though. Was running hill repeats on Hawk Hill while dodging cyclists and tourists. I love the traffic actually. Kills the boredom of running up and down a hill. I think I found a new hill to do my hill repeats on, closer to home too. The views were fantastic, clear sunny skies - I love my city. After the repeats I headed to Rodeo Beach to meet up with Serena. She wanted to run the last part of my workout with me as part of her own run workout. She had a bit of a bad day, a bit frazzled when she got there. My poor training partner, all bent and twisted on a beautiful day - ironically nothing like the trails of Marin to straighten her out a bit. Just a bit. She had never been on those hills and had herself a good time.
The post run part was also good. We hit an Inn and Out on the way back. I was craving a burger. Ahahaha, the wrong fuel but I was so hungry. Then it was off to Corte Madera Mall in search of a smoothie place for Serena. Somewhere in the conversation "California Pizza Kitchen" came up and next thing we know we are sharing a Pear and Gorgonzola salad Pizza, which was followed by dessert:) Yeah no health nuts here. It's okay I got full day of running again tomorrow.
So tomorrow is gonna be a bear. Another long day of running but I get to meet up with my Tri-Club, they are doing a 14-mile trail run. I'm planning to head out early, get in 5 hours before meeting up with them for their workout at 11AM. They picked a hilly course too(a double on the Dipsea trail) so I think that will add another 3 hours, at least for me. That will be sweet, company is always appreciated. Trails are best shared with others. J.P. will be leading the run and it's always good to run with him - although I can't keep up, not even when I'm fresh:)
The training is getting more intense heading into Western States 100 but the journey has been amazing so far.
Ah well what can I do. I have to go for another run. Am I running from the problem? You betcha! Thank goodness it's the weekend. I think this it for me with Microsoft products. Of course let's not forget that I'm an idiot in the first place for not backing up the database. I hate situations where most of the blame and responsibility lands on me anyway.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Right...Well we'll see if it helps me today. My Entourage Email Application just crashed. Went kabloey and I may have lost all my contact information and all business emails. Crap!
So now you know what I'm doing this afternoon. Oh I might get a recovery run in there somewhere. It's sunny and clear out. In any case it's only 4PM, I'll wait till 5:30 when more people are out. Running's more fun with other runners.
Have a good Friday everyone. For you athletes, good luck balancing your workouts with the holiday weekend:)
Thursday, May 25, 2006
This year I retooled my training program. I crashed bad last year. I was doing a lot of high volume stuff. Not a lot of races but a lot of long, long runs. In August I did the Cascade Crest Classic 100-miler, then a Half-Ironman two weeks after that mid September, the weekend after I attempted a 40-mile training run. I crashed 25 miles into it. After that day I wasn't the same person. I managed to finish off the two remaining items in my calendar but they were hard and painful. I don't regret doing them, especially the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, but I don't ever want to suffer like that again. I was cooked by October and I was overdone by November after Quad Dipsea. On the Dipsea course I experienced suffering on a new level.
So this year I vowed to redo the whole program. I threw in more cross training and interval type workouts. I signed up for track and spin classes. I got re-acquainted with my heart rate monitor - bought a year and a half before but seldom used. Tempered my hard days with recovery and active recovery days. I got myself a new running book and studied the "over-training" section. I also got a ton of help from a fellow ultra geek - Olga. She helped me a lot with the run training stuff. Back in February when I busted a 36 mile training run after only a few weeks of training (I take Decembers off), she jumped right in and threw down some sense.
Well so far so good. At Miwok I hit a time that I only dreamed of. At Ohlone, it was my first time so I had nothing to gauge my efforts on, I see my name at a place on the results list that just blows me away. It's just crazy! I'm not that fast. But it isn't just the races, I feel great on my workouts. I hit my miles on my long runs, hit my numbers on track and achieve my heart rate targets in spin. As of two weeks ago I started swimming and even that isn't as bad as I remembered it to be.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'm doing great in my training. I'm loving this season. No more over-training! no more burning out!
Lord, please give him all that he needs to make it through this surgery and this weekend with this parents. He'll need ample amounts of your energy, patience and endurance. And most of all may your will be done on this matter whatever happens.
At 4PM (right now!), a good friend is going under the knife to remove what remains of his Thyroid cancer. We are all praying that this is the very, very last of what remains. There's been other surgeries and tests. From what he told us it will be a relatively minor procedure, just the last tiny stubborn remnants of a tumor. We all hope this is the last hurdle on his way to a full recovery. Cancer...it's everywhere, my own family has been touched by it to countless friends and their own families.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Golden Gate Tri-Club warming up at the bottom of the Sand Ladder in Baker Beach. Click here for more purty pictures.
EFA is Escape from Alcatraz. San Francisco's very own premier Triathlon. Top athletes from all over the world come and do this race. There's a huge professional contingent that comes down every year. In addition to all the pros last year we had the Gold Medalist from the Olympic games as well as pretty much the whole US Olympic women's triathlon squad in attendance. I heard there were over 100 pros for the race. Jason would know the exact number, he was co-race director for last years event. I've never done it but I always volunteer. I'm a volunteer veteran at EFA:)
It's a unique and tough race. Unique because the distances for the swim, bike and run don't fall into any of the standard distances in Triathlon. The distances are closet to that of an Olympic event but those who have raced it say it's much harder. Tough because all three events are difficult. The 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz is through heavy current that changes direction depending on where you are on the bay and that's on a flat day. Jason recounted one swim where the swells were so heavy that you could only see San Francisco at the top of the swells, making "sighting"(direction finding) a bit challenging. How fun is that!? Another friend, Sharon, told me how she got seasick and nauseous - nice. EFA is the only triathlon I know that doesn't disqualify swimmers if they have to be "repositioned" by boat. It's also the only triathlon I know that allows athletes to miss the swim finish, so long as they run back to the bike start - damn those currents:) The bike is only 18 miles but they managed to chart a course that is uphill both ways..ahahaha...I'm sure they really meant hilly both ways. The run is part trail with a large hill, large by triathlon standards. After the turnaround on Baker Beach is the infamous "sand ladder", a short but steep, sand filled hill. It's an absolute killer this late in the race, the one last obstacle before the road home.
So yesterday's track workout was on this ladder. Pretty huh. How do you beat this? Sunny weather, by the beach and in view of Golden Gate Bridge. The gang had to run up and down the ladder, 4-6 loops. Half the time they had to carry backpacks full of sand. They are trying to mimic that fatigue and heaviness that sets in late in the race. As the last trackster finished there was applause with the sun setting in our backs, followed by barefoot running on the surf.
I was there to take pictures with social director Angela. It was sweeter for me because I got to fully enjoy the afternoon and watch them all workout. Always inspires me to see other people work. No hill repeats for me, Ohlone 50k was enough for this week.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Ohlone 50k course profile. Photo courtesy of AbovetheFog.net.
Click here for more photos.
Super Long Report but you can always just flip through the pictures:) No more wine while blogging!
Me: So Jason do you know who Ellen is? You know the one who took over Stephen's race number since he couldn't make it today.
Jason: Yup, see that woman in the other Quad Dipsea shirt, that's her.
Me: How'd you find that out?
Jason: Oh a little bit of detective work, I was at that truck looking at the course profile for the race and....
Me: (interrupting...) course profile??? huh, oh right maybe I should take a look at that too...hmmmm
a few minutes later....
Me: Holey Crap!!! You're kidding right.
IGNORANCE IS BLISS
That pretty much sums up what I thought of Ohlone 50k heading into it Sunday and my eventual rude awakening. I went in with a total lack of respect and excitement on my part about the race. Blah, blah, blah,it's just a 50k, it's half of the Miwok 100k - how bad can it be? Besides I'm just doing this as a training run while pacing Jason for his first official 50k. I've mentioned this before but will repeat for those that missed it. Jason along with Stephen, my pacer for Miwok 100k, is a finisher of Marathon Des Sables. A grueling multi-day race across the Sahara dessert in Morocco, 6-days and 151 miles while carrying all your food for the week on your back - yes while running sand dunes in hot weather! He's no slouch but this was going to be his first official trail ultra-marathon, complete with aid stations, competitors, a finish line and a bbq - the whole works. I wanted to be there.
So anyway, I've pretty much stopped doing most 50k's. Too short for me to spend the money on renting a car, the race fee, gas, etc. I run 50ks and longer in my training anyway. Sure it's lonely but it's free. If I have to spend the money it might as well be long. So the big draw here was really to share in Jason's first trail ultra and get in some training to boot for Western States 100.
Saturday I worked all day, ran hard for a little over 2.5 hours and went back to work till 2AM. Got up at 4AM, hadn't packed a thing, snoozed till 4:30. It's only a training run right?, I felt confident I'd get it all together in the half hour that I had before Jason picked me up. Pondered whether to use my best trail shoe but decided it wasn't worth bringing, it was just a training run and nothing more. Sleepy, tired and unexcited.
We parked at the finish to catch the bus to the start. I see the other runners, still noting. I meet up with Don Lundell. I bought some stuff from his online store, ZombieRunner and he saved me the shipping cost by just bringing the stuff over him. I'm happy with my new stuff but not excited to run, very, very relaxed. We fiinally get on the bus for the drive to the start, still not psyched. In fact I was uncomfortable because I needed to pee, damn that coffee. "hmmmm....those are some hills, are we going through there?" I pondered to myself, "nah" I pondered further. I was a perfect picture of ignorance and bliss.
I was busy at the start. Yakking it up and taking pictures. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones. A couple of stops to the boys room, a Cliff bar here, some sunscreen there and more water. Very relaxed, by all appearances cool, calm and collected. This was around the time that Jason brought my attention to the course profile. "It's only hard if you try" I say to myself.
Felt bad from the get go. Didn't have a good breakfast, ate something I shouldn't have, drank too much water and I loathe starting with an uphill. My heart rate was high even though I was just walking. The front group was off, so was the mid-packers with Jason among them. So much for the plan to run with him. I just couldn't get going. I'm a slow starter but not this slow. Walking alone was making me wheeze. I was all the way in the back of the pack. "Was it 4 miles to the top or 5?" I pondered to myself. Jason had a chart taped to his water bottle; aid stations and their mile location on the course and the mile distances between them. Why didn't I do that? Oh right, I'm an idiot.
It wasn't until the 45th minute did I start to feel better. By this time I had choked down a caffeinated energy gel and took in some 10 ounces of water. 45 minutes is about when my body starts to feel better usually, when my "endurance gear" engages. I read somewhere that the body switches from burning primarily glycogen to burning primarily carbs after 45 or so minutes. I'm sure that plays a part. So I start to get going, time to catch up to Jason. At the start of the downhill I make the acquaintance of Karen Hoffman. She says we ran part of Miwok together, this year or last or both. I apologize for my lack of memory but glad to properly meet her again. After that I bomb the downhill, it felt good and my favorite type too - fire road. Fire roads are basically dirt roads, flat and not quite as soft as single track but the footing is predictable and you can always find the "straight line" in the twists and turns. Bomb baby bomb, downhill is my favorite and my strength. This continued until we came to our first aid station. I ate my usual fare; energy gel, boiled potato slices and energy drink. They didn't have salt pills but they had rock salt for electrolyte replacement. I pee'd out a lof sodium at the start. I had coffee with breakfast and drank lots of water prior to the race, so I thought it prudent to start the salt regimen early. I shove everything in my mouth, the rock salt being smaller pops out and lands into the ground in front of me. Do I walk back the 10 feet to the aid station or do I just dust it off and eat it anyway. I do neither, I pop the whole thing back in my mouth, dirt and all. I was now the opposite of a relaxed mood. "Don't be a pansy. You're running in the stuff, breathing it in as it gets stirred up by the others and you're telling me you're gonna be squeamish about a little of it in your precious salt. Pop it in your mouth already!" I thought to myself. Still smilin' but getting psyched. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes can't we? This wasn't a training run anymore. Gloves came off at this point.
They say there are no flats in trail running, well maybe in Orlando, but it was definitely true in Ohlone 50k. We were either going up or down. On an uphill Karen catches up with me. We were on a fire road and there was a cow in the middle of it. Cow was not happy, snorting, eyeing us - maybe we woke it from a nap. Runner in front of me runs by and the cow runs with him for 5 yards before finally giving up. The hell is that cow doing?! After it was done with him, it started looking back at us. Hahaha I never experienced this. I should have taken a darn picture! Karen yells from behind something intelligible but I get the gist of it, she's worried too and wanted me to stick with her. Oh sure we knew a cow wouldn't bite or anything crazy like that but we didn't want to be run off the trail either. ASSAULT AND INJURED BY COW!, I can see the headlines now. However I finally come to my senses and realize that I'm faster than the cow. Guys, the day I can't outrun a cow is the time ya'll should tell me to hang up the shoes! Just as it weaved left I shoot to the right with Karen right behind. We laugh after we get past. Karen makes me laugh even more when she tells me that on the downhill earlier, she witnessed me passing people like they were standing still. Flattered, I say goodbye as it was the start of another downhill, this time it was much longer. Burn baby burn, I pass more runners.
UP DOWN REPEAT
A real race strategy starts to develop in my head - go hard till the finish. Treat it like the second half of Miwok, attack, attack, attack. I was going to hike/run the uphills, go moderately hard on what passed as flat and bomb every single downhill. There was no point in holding back it was only a 50k. Saving my legs and energy for what? For the finish? Forgettaboutit. I was trained up to the 100k distance - I had the endurance. I knew from looking at the profile that it was going to be hilly with two major climbs. I wanted to be smart with the uphills but reckless on the downhills. The views were amazing by the way. The East Bay trails are exposed, not much by the way of trees at the top of these ridges. The views are amazing. It can however be uncomfortably hot but not today, with storm clouds threatening and a light breeze it was perfect for this San Franciscan.
At the mile 15 aid station, the volunteer who greeted me and offered to fill my water bottle was no other than Ann Trason herself. It's not an understatement when I say, when people say, that she is a legend. in the world of Ultra Marathon. She is one of the greatest ultra runners in the world. Her records go on and on but the one I remember was her streak at the Western States 100-miler, first woman finisher 11 times. This is ultra, we all serve each other, even the living legends. That was an experience.
I saw Jason exit the aid station but wasn't able to call out since I was star struck at the time. I catch up with him eventually, 10 minutes later on a climb. This is how that conversation went:
Jason: Hey Rick!
Me: Hey. So hey sorry about not being able to pace you. You took off and I couldn't catch you until now.
Jason: My heart rate has been the same since I started.
Me: Really? Not mine's. It was offf the chart at the beginning and I was only walking. Bad start. So hey, while trying to catch up with you I made new friends along the way. I also caught up with old ones and herein lies the problem, I dropped them all but they are not too far behind. J, I have to keep going, those guys would love to see me again and but I don't:)
Jason: Yeah no problem.
Me: Well alright J. See you later. Sorry again.
I make my way through Jason's group and soon I was alone. The runner in front of me was far ahead and runners behind me were out of sight and earshot. It was here that I make a critical mistake. Alone with my thoughts I start thinking about work, about my Monday AM deadline. I start thinking about the issues that dragged me down the past few weeks and how emotionally beat up I felt. HUGE, huge mistake. I take myself out of the run mentally. All of a sudden it was hard to run, even downhill!!! Up to this point I hadn't paid attention to the mileage but all of a sudden I had a burning desire to know. How much of this crap is left? What was beautiful stopped to matter, what was fun became a bore and what was a challenge became slow torture. Crap, crap, crap....pull up baby pull up, you're flying too low. Daydreams, happy thoughts, I threw it all in with some success. Get psyched, get psyched, they are starting to catch you. Eventually I catch up to a runner with a brightly colored jacket. I close but not enough to pass him. I'd come close, he'd run away, I'd get close and he pulls away again. I focus on the jacket, determined to keep it in sight the whole time. Unbeknownst to me at the time he was having problems too. Eventually I catch and drop him after 2 miles of this cat and mouse game.
Still down but starting to pick up again. The highest point of the run is the top of Mt. Rose at 3800 ft. At the top there is a short down and back loop, the race director wanted to make sure we got to the very, very top. It's short, I'd say half a mile to three quarters for the whole thing. As I start the loop I see Scott Dunlap, then Brian Wyatt go by, guys I know I can be competitive with. That completes my recovery, the sight of them snaps me out completely. I start chasing again. I can't chase ghosts, I need rabbits.
FLYING BRIAN WYATT
Every race I've run with Brian I've always managed to get to the finish line before him. In the beginning I simply thought it was because I was faster and maybe I was. However his time at AR50 this year was faster than my time when I did it and he had to contend with mud and sloppy conditions. That fact woke me up to his true capabilities. At Miwok 100k I was chasing him but he ended up with stomach problems. No big deal though, his friend Georgia chased me all over Marin that day:) I'll see those two at Western States 100 this year, Brian is pacing Georgia. I love these two. Anyway I had to haul to catch up to Scott and Brian. On the way down the loop I meet up with Jason, tearing ground up as I flew by. He was in good spirits, still smiling - a good sign.
I get close to Brian, I would say 100 yards. I see him at the top a hill that I'm climbing but when I get to the top he is nowhere to be found. In fact for awhile I though I got lost because I just didn't see him in front. He must have really turned on the gas after the hill. He was just nowhere to be found. I don't seem him again until the finish. I run hard regardless. Pretty much all the downhills are fireroads, mwahahaha...burn baby burn. I fly past people but still no Brian. At the bottom of one hill, where a creek flowed, I come upon two runners. I catch and pass them right at the bottom, splitting the two while leaping over the water. It was a thing of beauty.
Scot is a great guy. Of the only two races that I've run with him, including this one, he has always been pleasant and friendly regardless whether it was the start, on the trail or the finish. He is also the 2004 Trail Runner trophy series champ for the marathon division and hosts a super popular blog dedicated to running. I've seen him take time out of his race at Miwok to console and walk with a fellow runner who had "blown out". On this race I saw him at the post race bbq chatting with a couple of the ultra newbies - Oliver and Adrian. A man of the community. I catch Scott around mile 27, tired but still in good spirits. I say hello and move on, searching for Brian.
At the bottom of the hill was another creek crossing. You're supposed to go right, I go left. The trail disappears completely but I can feel through the thick grass that the ground was shaped by moving feet. I also saw vegetation disturbed by moving people and so I keep going. Smartly, not seeing a ribbon after awhile, I turn back and back track. I lose about 5 minutes. Angry I start chasing with renewed vigor, on a hill no less. I had to catch up with folks I already passed. They say hello and ask how I got behind them. The truth is always the best, "guys I'm an idiot". Heart rate was off the charts but I'm pissed and didn't care at this point. "If you get back your place in line all will be forgiven", I say to myself. So the question is, where is Scott Dunlap?
The finish of this race is down hill, two nice downhill sections. I finally see Scott on the top of a ridge but chasing him is a runner who's got his second wind. Remember those two runners I split at the bottom of the creek? This guy chasing was one of them. He left his buddy and was now charging home. He passes Scott and keeps on trucking. I pass Scott but now had to chase this other guy, I wish I remembered his name - he introduced himself right before we left the post race bbq. The last aid station is two miles from the finish. I had enough in me. I didn't need to stop but I was looking to see if he did. He doesn't and blows by the station. Damn!, oh well at least I'm closing. Finally, I catch him right before a downhill. We chat briefly and I congratulate him on his second wind. He asks me where I got lost:) Soon as the downhill starts I haul, knees, legs are all stiff at this point but I continue to push. I'm not a quiet runner either. I crunch rocks and dirt as I go. On a fire road downhill filled with loose stones and rocks, haulin' fast, you can multiply the noise factor by 10. People can hear me coming from 20 yds. away. Near the bottom of the hill I pass by a boy scout troop on my right, two runners on my left. Adrenaline was in abundance and I was anticipating/smelling the barn. The bottom of the turn was tight and it pitched uphill on the exit. On the apex of the turn was the rest of the boy scout troop waiting for their buddies. Flowing with all that momentum, with an audience behind me and in front of me, I showboat and punch the gas even more. I hit the bottom flying and I STICK the turn, wind loud in my ears. The turn was so sweet, that was the point where I could have ate it. Thank you, Thank you Montrail Leona Divides. Rest in Peace (discontinued line as of this year). With all that momentum the uphill was less of a problem. Wanting to catch my breath for the next downhill I walk as I neared the top of the hill. Feeling very much like a stud at this point. Surely I dropped someone with that excellent piece of running. I look back, the guy who I caught and was desperately trying to drop, was only 20 yards away. Oh God, that made me laugh. I just did what I thought was incredible and this guy was still behind me. Ahahahaha dude you're friggin' awesome, I wish I remembered your name. However he stopped at the same point I did to walk and catch his breath. "Ah so he's tired too I see", I thought to myself. "Well it looks like another downhill and probably the last one since there's only a mile left to this race, let's see if he has in in him to do it again", I thought to myself further. Burn baby burn, burn all that's left. Burn that glyco, burn that carb. Coming in loud like a freight train, stomach imploding on itself, heart rate past lactate threshold, legs strained, I catch Oliver 30 yds. from the finish. I blow by him and do something crazy and unnecessary, call it adrenaline, show boating or whatever; I go at full max and sprint. Woof, woof, woof what a finish.
Guess who was waiting for me at the finish? Brian Wyatt, that magnificent bastard with a time of 5:52. I came in at 5:57. Had I not gotten lost would I have caught him? Dunno but it's a moot point. Finding your way, knowing where you're going is part of the race. Mark Tanaka was there too but this guy was out of our league. That animal did it in 5:15, for fourth place. I might as well chase Scott Jurek, the result will be the same. Saw a bunch of friends and familiar looking runners come in. Saw Karen too, her husband and son were there at the finish. She was awarded, I believe, the first place in her age group: 40-49. We had to retell our cow story to her family and other runners. Hung out with Brian, Mark and Scott. Talked with that runner with the strong second wind. Traded stories with other folks. Met Kevin, a triathlete on his first ultra.
Jason came in under 6:30. I was there to capture the moment on camera. We then went and had burgers and chips for at the post race bbq. Sat with who else, Mark, Brian and Kevin. Scott went to get cleaned up.
Schwag was great. A nice new shirt, a wooden plaque souvenir for finishing and some assorted food items. Also snagged some water bottles for my bike. Nice.
The drive home was uneventful but by time I got back it was too late for church. Oh well, there's always next week.
I'm shooting blanks creatively and I have no choice but to blow the budget and schedule - keep on working. Just how it goes sometimes. My clients don't care about the time and cost, they care about the final product I promised to deliver. I'm working on a website design and my concept is just not working. The pain and fun of design. It doesn't exist until I create it but sometimes I've got no great ideas. My creative drive has been on the fritz lately.
Anyway I've got a great report on Sundays race and pictures to boot. It'll be a long read but you can always just flip through the pictures.
Happy Monday everyone.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Comfort Loop starts at my apartment, down to the edge of the bay at Fort Mason, tracing the water's edge past the Marina, past Crissy Field, past the Golden Gate Bridge, past Baker Beach, past Robin William's home on Sea Cliff, straight on to Land's End trail, end at the ruins of Sutro Baths above Ocean Beach on the Pacific Coast, turnaround and go back. It's about 18 miles, maybe a little more.
Felt slow and sluggish on the way out but was surprised to be ahead of schedule. Hauled butt all the way back, while throwing down energy gels and water. Haul, haul, haul, man was a I flying and having a great time. It was a good day for running. I left late, worked for most of the day - Sunday and Monday deadline, how it goes in freelancing sometimes. Nice day though, what was left of it. Saw two guys practicing their dance moves (ballet it seemed) by the bridge, saw a cat dozing half asleep on a wooden fence on Sea Cliff, saw geese walking around Crissy Field, saw Coach Matt getting in an afternoon run in the Marina, and I saw 3 drunk guys on the corner of Hyde and Vallejo streets, with their shirts off waving at the Cable cars. Nice day, nice run.
On to Ohlone 50k.
You see I've been struggling with a couple of major issues the last few weeks. Issues that could have easily brought me down for a prolonged period of time and completely take me out of my game. For awhile there I was down but I fought back. Dealing with the issues has produced the opposite effect. It's crazy. It's not that I wasn't a fighter before this, it's just that...well...I found out that I was capable of more - you might say a third wind. The last couple of days I've looked at the mirror and said "Who are you?", you're not the person I know.
Most of all the experience has greatly strengthened my Faith. There is no distance between God and I on these issues. I am sad but I am NOT angry. I am disappointed but I am NOT frustrated. Endurance, perseverance, and courage; I'm happy to see these in practical applications in my daily life and not just in the activities that I do. I am more than the things I do. I am not my mistakes. I am not my disappointments. So here's to moving forward, it's a new day. Time will tell if I'm just full of hot air or if I really got something here.
With all that melodrama said, I think I will bag the hill repeats and run a trail that I know very well. This route was a staple of my marathon, 50k and 50-mile training programs but hardly used now that I eschew it for the Marin Headlands. If there is such a thing as a "comfort trail", this is it. It will beautiful, by the ocean, and a reminder of how far I've come.
I will leave you all with my personal motto. Might strike a chord with some of you.
There is no Finish without a Start. No Victory without a Struggle.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I can tell you however that in the other sports that I dabble in, cycling and swimming, that there is a dominant thought that always creeps into my mind. In spin class I always think about running. Ahahaha, seriously, nothing gets my legs pumping and my heart rate rising to the appropriate zones than when I think about running a good nice trail. On the swim I think about running too. There's a theme here huh. Unless I'm out doing a bay swim then I think about the time I almost drowned when I was 10. The memory always reminds me of how far I've come since that day. I went in the river with friends, already knowing beforehand that I didn't know how to swim. Pretty dumb - well there was a girl involved. Girls are like alcohol sometimes, common sense goes out the door with prolonged exposure. I was already going under before her uncle pulled me out. I've never told my grandmother to this day. I was raised by my grandmother till I was 12. Well, I guess she'll know now:)
Well it's time for lunch. What can I grub on today?
It worked out well, like clockwork; boom, boom, boom. I was worried that I wouldn't hit my heart rate zones on the bike because of the swim, I worried for nothing. I was fine, nothing water and energy gel wasn't able to help. Ran into Serena before class and she said I smelled like the bay. She's in the class before mine's. Speaking of Serena, she's bumming right now by the way, strained her Achilles running the other day. It's gotten worse and now it hurts even just to walk. If you're an athlete you know how much an injury sucks. Just the word "injury" is enough to illicit a wince and an "oohh". I'm bummed for her. The great news is that she can still swim and that's the plan for tomorrow. Anyway spin was great. Rocked the workout, hit all my zones and stayed focused.
After socializing with folks after class I ran home. Running with a pack laden with gear and a soggy wetsuit kind of sucks, I have to be honest. On the other hand without the gear I wouldn't have accomplished much. Easy run home anyway and I had my music with me. Famished when I got home, a good hunger from a good workout. Thursday nights like this will go a long way in preparing me for a Fall triathlon event. I've got my eyes set on a Half-Ironman race in Santa Cruz middle of September. You know I'm really blessed to be able to do this; the resources, the time, good health and great programs. It won't always be like this and I'm glad to be able to take advantage now.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Just recently I got myself 3 books. 2 are self-help, the titles of which will remain secret - what? I don't want you guys rolling your eyes behind your computers. Rest assured it's all to make me a better, nicer, well rounded person. The other book however is a Christian book I've been thinking about for a long time. Below is a section of the Author's note, tell me if you see the connection with running...ahahaha I see the run in everything...what? I'm a runner. Jason A, you'll like this one.
"I never liked Jazz music because Jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that I liked jazz music.
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way..."
Blue Like Jazz
Admittedly this has not worked for me with swimming. I watch swimmers all the time. Sure I have new found appreciation for it but "love" would be an overstatement. Maybe I just need more time. I do however enjoy swimming in the open water. Speaking of which, I have a great lineup planned for the evening; run to Aquatic Park for a bay swim, run to Crunch Gym in the Marina for my spin class, then finally the run home. That'll be fun...Well I'm just rambling now so...till next time.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
So yesterday we had track at Crissy Field. This is the park and recreation area by the Golden Gate Bridge. If you were a ship coming in to port, it would be the field and dirt trail to your right after you pass under the bridge. There was a Lacrosse game at Kezar Stadium, no track, not unless you like running the outside. Nevertheless we had a pretty intense workout, for me anyway. Went hard, as much as I could.
Our workout was 20 minutes from the parking lot where everyone parked, so on the way back Coach M2 had us run in groups. Everyone had to run in a straight line, last person had to run to the front, then the next last person, so on and so forth, everyone rotating all the way down. Our group was about 9 strong and we hammered. At first the pace was a little fast, some folks in the group were a little too eager, myself included - we lost Amelia halfway through. Not wanting to lose another we slowed the pace down. I loved it, great team building exercise. We all had to learn to run together, respect each other's paces. Very cool game, wonder what it's called. We should do this in ultra, oh wait, not enough room on the trail. Besides I already know of one person who would want to stay in front the whole time.
Well this morning I was up early -!?!?!, yes you heard right. I was up at the crack of dawn for an early morning bike ride with my friend Serena. I can count with my fingers all the morning workouts that I've done the last 5 years, rare but it does happen. No wind but lots of fog, quite heavy at certain places. According to the news report this morning, a huge bank of it rolled in early this morning. It was cold but not overly so and hey, no wind.
Rode around the Presidio, we didn't have enough time to make a bridge crossing worthwhile. It was great, Presidio is a gem if you know where to go. Beautiful, quiet, secluded and over looking the bay. The fog was heaviest here, trees and homes shrouded in mist. Something romantic and ghostly about the fog, especially in an old military base. Lot's of people were out too, who are these early morning risers?! So far I've already been on the bike twice and I've also swam twice, pretty sweet. It helps balance out all the running, body takes a pounding and it's nice to cross train.
I feel great but I'm probably going to need a nap later this afternoon. Working alone in a home office can be a lonely existence but naps are always possible. I had a donut with my coffee. Hey nothin' says lovin' like sugar and fat...mmmmmm
Monday, May 15, 2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006
After getting in the pool last Friday and confident that my swimming skills were still there - where I left them since mid-September of last year, I proceeded with my plan to join my tri-club at Aquatic Park this morning. Ooofff it was a late night and getting up early after a big day of running on Saturday just bites (6.5 hours on the trail, 2.5 of it in the form of hill repeats). However, I really wanted to get on with my first bay swim of the year. Flaking would have felt good initially (more sleep) but I would have woken up pissed and felt like a loser. Not a good way to start my swim season. So off I went.
I was up late the night before because of a Team in Training fundraiser which started at 10PM. I managed to get out by 12:30AM and only 2 beers for the 2.5 hours that I was there but I was starving when I got home. All this running is going to send me to the poor house with all the food I eat and all the eating out that I do.
I couldn't have picked a better day to go. It was gorgeous out and the water was the perfect temperature, cold when you get in but something you could warm up to. What made it even more pleasant was that there was no current, no ebb or flood. San Francisco Bay empties (ebb) and fills (flood) twice a day. For our swim the bay was in that transition state between that two, neither ebbing nor flooding, what they call "slack". I've been out there when the current was strong, it can get hairy, especially when you're a slow swimmer like me. You add swells to the current then you have yourself a small adventure, like trail running vs road. One time we were outside the wall, the current was behind us pushing from behind - we were flying. However there were swells, a ship had passed by and there were these rollers rolling through. The swells would roll through us, hit the wall, then roll back on us. You were either swimming downhill or uphill while being pushed from behind with the Golden Gate Bridge in view - amazing. If you can swim in San Francisco Bay, triathlon swim course are a breeze - at least that ones I've done.
Anyway it was a beautiful day and my partner Chuck was just the same speed I was. We cut the course workout:) Otherwise we would have been there all day, we did manage to exit the mouth of Aquatic Park for a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Yesterday it was running across the bridge to the headlands, this morning it was bobbing up and down in the bay, days like this make me feel like my life is a vacation. I'm sure Monday will take care of that euphoria:)
Friday, May 12, 2006
Photo Courtesy of Ellen and EQ Swimwear.com
The thing that I was most psyched about my new training program this season was that I didn't have to swim until the Spring. I love Triahtlon, I hate swimming. Oh I know I'm hurting the feelings of the swimmers right now; whatever, I have to hear people complain about running all the time. Running sucks! Hmmmm...okay. The workout hurt a bit but not as badly as I thought, although I was only in for a measely 30mins. I think I'm going to ask Ellen from EQ Swimwear for some good workouts. She's quite the swimmer. Last year I swam a lot, took Master Swim classes and swam in the bay. This year has been the opposite. Swimming has no respect for your biking or running skills and endurance, you go in out of shape for swimming it will hurt. Nevertheless it was good to be back, I feel like a triathlete again. Wildflower has got me pumped up plenty. Mmmm...the smell of chlorine, which by the way destroyed my TYR swim trunks from last season. I guess I didn't rinse them out completely and the chlorine just ate away at the fabric. Nice. I was in the pool thinking that maybe I lost weight...righhttt..the trunks were falling apart.
Sunday I think I will join the gang at Aquatic Park. I don't think I'm in swim shape to go around the wall but I definitely can swim to the mouth and back. I'll just let Swim captain Kristin know before hand that I won't be venturing out. I think we have a joint workout with San Francisco Tri-Club, that will be fun. I also see some coffee and pastries after this shindig.Yes that will be awesome but not before a butt kicking workout on Saturday. Hill repeats in the Marin Headlands. Ooofff I'm hurting already. But that's a topic for another time.
Serena and I at the finish line.Click here for more Wildflower pics.
After the post race celebrations, picking up Stephen's car at Bolinas Ridge (did we really come through here?! seems so far), having dinner and driving back to San Francisco it wasn't until about 10PM till I walked in through my apartment door. Cleaned myself up, repacked one of my bags, got directions and printed maps to Lake San Antonio where Wildflower was being held. By the time I hit my bed it was a quarter past 11PM. I debated whether to take Ibuprofen or not, to regulate my temperature and help with the soreness in my legs. I decided against it since I was only going to be in bed for another 3.5 hours - bad mistake. I got the chills, a clear sign that I pushed hard - made me smile actually. However I was cold and when I piled on the blankets I got too hot, so I had to take them off -on and off, on and off, this was my night. But by 3AM I was ready to go, talk about transitions. I didn't see the weekend as two days, I saw it as one with a nap in the middle of the day. Took another hot shower, got dressed and was out the door by 4AM. Friends quoted a 3.5 hour drive and Mapquest confirmed it. I had to be at Lake San Antonio by 7:30AM, they start closing the road leading to the gates by 8:30AM, it's part of the bike course.
Yes, I think I know what you're thinking. Crazy right. Yes I thought it too but not out of character for me. Look at what I do for fun, but yes even I was questioning "the plan" as I drove away without coffee for the second morning in a row. The pipes in my building backep up on Saturday while I was gone. There was lots of unpleasant water that came out of my sink and into the kitchen. Luckily it didn't go past the kitchen but it was off limits from the point on. A quick note was dropped off to the manager before heading out the door.
The drive down was pleasant. No traffic and I lots of great music. I would have enjoyed it more had I not yawned so much on the way down, "what the hell am I doing here?" Finally at King City it was late enough for the local Mc Donald's to be open, grabbed some coffee and a breakfast special.
$19 bucks to get in! $7 auto fee and a $12 spectator fee. What the? Well whatever it's my first time here so what the hey. Those would be the last of my complaints though; the moment I entered the gate, saw the athletes, the tents, the RV's, I was very excited. How fun is this, it was much more fun knowing I get to watch and not actually do it. I got excited too soon, I was only at the top of the hill, after parking the car I had to walk to the shuttle bus area, catch a shuttle for the trip down to the lake where the transition area was. Down there was where the real excitement was.
Walked aimlessly for about an hour. I was there early, couldn't find Serena or my Golden Gate Peeps. Finally as the race was about to start I ran into some of my Golden Gate folk. Hooked up with them for pretty much the whole day except the end. We went and cheered on the swim, the bike and the run. I saw Serena as she excited the swim and from that point on I was able to figure out where she was in the race. I was able to catch her on the bike and the run as well. In between cheering for our athletes we also got some window shopping done in the booths (all triathlon gear) and some chow. Got a chance to catch up with each other. These folks I was hanging with raced the long course event the day before. Long course is the official name for the Half-Ironman, so named because the distances are exactly half that of a full Ironman event. These guys were studs and we exchanged stories, most of them knew I raced Miwok the day before.
The finish was chaotic. Saw J.P. and Janet and more of our Golden Gate people, cheering and racing. Janet had a good race. Amelia had the big honking camera and had photography duty. Serena finished not long afterwards and we hung out from that point on. She was disappointed with her race but I was just so proud she finished. It was her first official triathlon race. She went big doing it in Wildflower and training with triathlon teams. She had so much support and know how around her that day. We hung out for a bit, walked around the booths, got something to eat and drink. It was warm out there. The morning was cold with the area blanketed in fog but it quickly burned off and it got quite warm.
Eventually we went down to the transition area to collect her bike and other gear. Met some of her teammates and ran into more Golden Gater's going home. It was a good day for our team. Golden Gate took first in the coed team competition for the Olympic distance, 3 gals and 3 dudes. Anyway not wanting me to drive alone (thank you), Serena rode back with me. From the get go we get lost, too busy talking, but after that hiccup we were on our way. The drive home was a lot longer because of the traffic but a nicer when you have someone to talk to. Stopped off at Chevy's on the way home, beer for me and a giant margarita for her and lots of food. I needed the chocolate espresso beans she had stashed in the car on the way home. Got back to the city around 10PM.
Whew it was a big weekend. I'm still recovering myself and it's already Friday. My body is wanting more rest and I'm tired way too early at night. I really pushed at Miwok and I was out in the sun for pretty much the whole day on Sunday at Wildflower, not to mention the lack of sleep. Sa'll good. I went to track Tuesday night and I felt great. Now I'm all fired up about triathlon again. Having accomplished what I did in Miwok this year I don't feel the need to go back. Time to do other races. Next year I would like to do the long course in Wildflower.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Running on Bolinas Ridge heading back to Rodeo Beach and the finish line, mile 44-45. Stinson Beach and Bolinas in the background. Click here for more of Steve's pics.
And here are Stephen's photos from Miwok, he also brought his camera. Even managed to get some good running shots of yours truly. Thanks Stephen, you are one amazing pacer.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
After the race; Jason, Olga, Stephen and Myself. Jason paced Olga, Steve paced me.Click here for more of my pics.
When I Run...I become the kind of man I wish I could be for every single day of my life. When I'm out there I am thankful/appreciative, for my resources and good health. I am joyful and at peace, just danged happy to be doing what I'm doing. I am courageous, taking it all on - flinching sometimes, whining even but moving forward nevertheless. I am hardworking and persevering, giving my best to achieve goals and challenges. I am non-judgemental and all loving. I don't care how slow or fast people are, I'm just glad they're out there. I'm especially gratefull for all the volunteers. I am inspired and in awe of God's creation, from the flower to the mountain, from the valley to the sea - always blown away. When I go long, especially on the trails, for a moment I become all these great things. It's an amazing transformation that reminds me who I should be all the time, on and off the trail. Does that make sense? Long distance running brings out the best in me.
This was my third year running Miwok and I was out to prove something, to myself and to my friends. The first year I got lost en route to an 11:30 finish, finishing at 12:15. The second year, vowing not to make the same mistake, I get lost on the exact same location! - finishing at 11:57. "I can do this!", I've yelled internally for the last two years.
I was nervous and anxious the week of the race. Couldn't sleep much and even lost my appettite. The kind of nervous energy that comes from knowing you have it together and this could be the big PR (personal record). Unlike the last two years I was coming in fresh and strong, no previous races. I was also better trained, a new training plan that emphasized intervals and recovery had me feeling strong and prepared. I'm a bit heavier than in the previous two years but I didn't think it would be factor. Finally I had a pacer, first time ever. Not even in my two 100-mile races did I have a pacer. I was as ready and set up as I was going to be. My goal was 11 hours, my secret goal was 10:30-10:45.
Race weekend started the moment Jason and I picked up Olga at BART on Friday night. Seemed like it was just yesterday when we said our goodbyes after American River 50. She was looking pretty damn cool with her new Montrail/Nathan Labs team jacket, they picked a good color. We had dinner and I dropped them off at Jason's apartment in North Beach. Saturday morning I'm running late, dumb MP3 player memory card was having problems. I didn't get to Jason's until 4:40AM, 10 minutes late. Olga apologized right away for not being a morning person. Well neither am I. I was only able to get an hour and a half of sleep (normal night before a race is 2 hours) and I left my coffee at the apartment because of all the rush. Coffee flavored energy gel, not ideal but it had to do. The moment we pull in to the parking lot the game was on. I was cool, calm and collected - ready. I picked up my number, used the bathroom and hurried back to the warmth of the car. Olga was out saying hello to everyone and they were all probably thinking "What the hell are you doing here? Didn't you win your age group last weekend at Zane Grey?" Race starts promptly at 4:45AM on the beach. Everyone runs down the beach and I position myself towards the first quarter of the field to avoid the bottleneck that develops when a beach full of runners try to squeeze into single track trail.
Wearing my HRM for the first time in an actual race, I keep a close watch on my heartbeat. Goal is to keep it at 20-30 beats below maximum, where you want to be for long, endurance efforts. My friend Brian who started behind me is nowhere to be seen, he just took off. I fully intended to go after him, but I kept my patience. "Easy Baby", I keep whispering it to myself. If Brian was truly faster and stronger I never had a chance and would have burned myself trying to catch him; however, if he simply started too fast then I have a chance down the line as his strength waned and my own continued to rise. I planned on a negative split, for you non-runners that means running the second half faster than the first. Anyway the sun came out but the weather remained cool. Everything was moving like clockwork. The volunteers as usual were terrific. Normally being very chatty and social, I keep the talking to a minimum. I say hello, introduce myself to some but never staying long enough to develop long conversations. 2 hours into the race I turn on the music. I sing as I run, unfortunately the player runs out of juice by the 5th hour - defective battery, it was new. Major bummer, the player was loaded with mellow music to help keep me in check and then some real loud agressive stuff for the second half. It wasn't so bad though, in one way it connected me back to the race. After a little over 5 hours I start attacking, 1.5 hours earlier than planned. The decision was prompted by the rolling terrain leading into the turnaround point at mile 36. I wanted to up the pace on the short downhill sections. On my water bottles I had Olga's splits from last year taped on the outside. The year before she finished at 11:07. My goal was to match her splits, her times at the different aid stations. Up until the turnaround point I was consistently 3-4 minutes behind her time, it was only at the turnaround point did I catch up. From that point on I started gaining, coming in a few minutes faster at every station heading back to the finish. I've never done splits before and it was really great to have them. It broke up the race into sections, it also tells you if you are behind or ahead of schedule. It was at this point that I stopped chasing other runners and concentrated on the clock. Passing runners became a consequence of my time goal and not the other way around. As I told Steve during the race, I don't care how many runners pass me as long as I stay ahead of Olga's second half splits and continue to gain on them.
At mile 42.8 I was supposed to pick up Stephen my pacer, he wasn't ready. Jason and him were fussing around in the car when I came through, Jason was pacing Olga. They had been waiting for an hour but went back to the car to grab some stuff. Stephen however is a faster runner and with fresh legs he had no problem catching up with me a half mile later. Stephen proves to be an amazing pacer. I give him an update on my race and I let him lead. He pulled me psychologically, I ran at a pace faster than I would have by myself. Is having a pacer cheating...it's been debated. I however have no guilty feelings since up to this point I've never had a pacer. Besides considering my less than ideal experiences at Miwok, I needed it. 2 miles from Pantoll I start to develop stomach problems, weird, I almost never have stomach problems. It slows me down until I realized that talking only made it worse. So after apologizing to Stephen in advance for the silence that was about to follow, I appointed him entertainment director. He could talk all he wanted so long as he understood I was only going to answer in grunts.
Stephen: So Amy and I rented "Memories of a Geisha"
Stephen: Yeah we thought it was okay.
Me: more grunting...
Anyway I had the urge to stop drinking and eating but I forced the food and liquids down anyway. Too many stories of people getting worse when they succumbed to the loss appettite and thirst. One sure way to sabotage your race is to stop your nutrition. During the entire race I consumed the watery energy drink that they had, sliced boiled potatoes with salt, energy gel, switching to caffeinated energy gel late in the race and salt tablets. Worked like a charm for the most part. Lucky for me I didn't have nausea or the desire to hurl. That's the worst, you need the nutrients but you can't hold down food.
Right ITB starts to bother me again at mile 52-53. It bothered me at mile 15 and now it was back. I stopped to rub it and to my surprise I hear Georgia yelling at me. Err....didn't I drop her by mile 49. Georgia is a runner I met at the Quad Dipsea three years ago. I keep having to introduce myself because she keeps forgetting who I am. After Sunday I don't think she'll forget cause she chased me for half the race. She passed me at mile 33 and I passed her back at mile 34. During that time I reintroduced myself for the upteenth time and she never stopped chasing after that. She wasn't specifically trying to pass me, she had a time goal as well and I just happened to be there. I can totally relate. Stephen turns on his jets and encourages me to follow, "don't think so Stephen, too tired...well okay". We did this the whole way to the last aid station, passing people as we went, then again to the finish. He'd throw me a cookie when I pulled through, "good section, that was a good climb". I said "Stephen I think it will be close, maybe 10:58" and he said "uh no way" and proceeded to kick my butt even more. At certain points along the course he was as much as 15 yards ahead of me. The only way to talk to him was to run after him (by this time the stomach had settled down), damn it worked. We never got passed. At the top of the last climb I let out a victory yell. The downhill from the top of the hill to the finish was a favorite of mine's, in fact I would practice it while day dreaming that I was finishing Miwok under 11 hours. Well I was living it. I bombed downhill for the last time, finishing very, very strong and fast. So what did I say? 12:15 the first year and 11:57 the second year. Saturday, it was 10:47! I felt like a rockstar yet indebted to so many. The time placed me in 40th place out of 230 finishers. 15% of the field didn't make it.
Post race was filled with stories and meeting new people. Couldn't eat for 30-45 minutes but I finally managed to down a hotdog and some watermelon. Even got some Ice Cream for the road. My favorite memory was when I was on Bolinas Ridge on the way back to the finish line, I was looking back to see who was following me, you get the clearest view here. The runner chasing, just in front of Georgia, looks up and waves at me and yells "Good Job!". That just about killed my focus when I waved back and started laughing. It's hard to be competitive when they urge you forward. So later I paid it forward. I waved at a runner who was looking back at me, hehehehe. I love, love ultra. Anyway after picking up Stephen's car we all got some Mexican food then it was off to bed for me. Got home by 10PM, cleaned up, repacked a bag, printed new maps and was in bed by 11. I was on my way to the second half of the weekend, the last day of the Wildflower Triathlon.
Monday, May 08, 2006
My God, I pulled it off! Need time to organize. Need more rest. Photos and stories to follow, gots some great ones for you guys.
P.S. Serena did very well although she doesn't think so, definitely an issue that will continually to be debated in the future:)
Friday, May 05, 2006
Anyway, in endurance events I find the machine metaphor works best. You drive that body while constantly reading gauges; energy, pain, fatigue and overall well-being. Protect the mind and spirit at all costs. When the mind and spirit goes, well then you're probably toast:) Until then however keep your sheeet movin', RFM (Relentless Forward Movement) Like they say in the Western States 100-Miler, "look at the eyes, look for the ones that look like their spirit is separating from their bodies", those folks they sit down then pull out of the race if they don't improve. Ah the beauty and pain of endurance sports. Why go "short" when the fun begins in the "long" and I say this with respect to everyone's capabilities. Short and long is relative.
But I ramble on and such ramblings are better suited for my personal journal, which has seen more use these last few days.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The last part of the equation, the spiritual part, came together for me last night. Not many people know this because I hardly write or talk about it but the spiritual part is the most critical part for me. If I'm not right there I won't be right anywhere. I'm ready, now if I can only get some sleep. On top of that today I lost my appetite. Wha!? Huh!? Rick lose his appetite, that never happens. Let me put it this way. When I was about 9 yrs. old, living in the Philippines, I got sick with Typhoid fever. Nasty illness that kept me sick for most of a year. A lot of kids got sick, most lost weight through treatment. Guess who gained weight:) My mom doesn't call me "pig" for nothing.
Keep it together Rick...just 3 more days.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Anyway since I have a car this weekend I'm thinking of making it a double header. Do my 100k race on Saturday, Miwok 100k is this weekend too and drive down early Sunday to catch the end of Wildflower with my cowbell. Hobbling around while ringing a cowbell is a great way to spend a Sunday morning. Wildflower is all weekend; athletes go down Friday and camp out, Long Course (half-Ironman distance) competition on Saturday, Short Course (Olympic distance) competition on Sunday. Last year I wanted to come down but had to lead a YMCA run on Sunday morning, head coach was at Wildflower for the relay version of the long course. I was the assistant coach so it was my job. He appreciated me filling in and told me that I didn't have to run, just inform the runner of their workout and check with everyone before going home. Sit around and watch other people run....hmmmm...right...sure that happened but I digress.
Excited...too excited, I've been waking up an hour before the time set on my alarm clock this week. For a chronic oversleeper that's quite unnatural:) I will also be wearing my GGTC gear to Miwok 100k. I love my club. Maybe I'm just too easily impressed.